MSR makes history racing to the first-ever IMSA GTP victory in new era of hybrid competition
Daytona Beach, Fla. (29 January 2023) – Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) with Curb-Agajanian ushered in a new era in American sports car racing, taking its second-consecutive victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona with the hybrid-powered No. 60 Acura ARX-06. Tom Blomqvist crossed the checkered flag, winning from the pole position and making history with the first GTP victory alongside teammates Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud.
The 61st running of the American classic came down to four restarts during the final 94-minutes. Blomqvist was up to the task, holding off the competition each time en route to taking the checkered flag by 4.19-seconds in front of an event-record crowd.
Last year, MSR won the 60th Running of the Rolex 24 with an Acura in the DPi category, with a lineup including Blomqvist, Castroneves and Pagenaud. This year, the top class showcased the new LMDh prototypes, with Braun joining the driver lineup. Reigning IMSA Champion Blomqvist raced to his second straight Rolex 24 Hour victory, Braun scored overall for the first time after previously taking two class victories, Castroneves made it a record-sharing three-in-a-row at Daytona, while Pagenaud garnered his second Rolex chronograph.
MSR won at Daytona for the third time, including a victory in its heralded 50th running in 2012 using a Daytona Prototype in Grand-Am Rolex Series competition.
Anticipated as a twice-around-the-clock learning curve for the new technology, the race quickly turned into a 24-hour sprint race. MSR was in the fight all the way, leading a race-high 361 of the 783 circuits.
Pagenaud ran a yeoman triple-stint Sunday morning as he passed the No. 02 GTP car in Turn 1 for the lead with three-hours, 45-minutes remaining, and the No. 60 Acura stayed out front for the remainder of the race. Blomqvist took over with one-hour, 48-minutes to go, and was up to the task despite a number of late-race restarts.
The late heroics bookended a solid event for Blomqvist. After winning the pole position on a final-lap charge in last weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24, Blomqvist led the opening 61 laps of the event.
Castroneves became the first driver to win the race in three-consecutive years, joining Peter Gregg – who won the race three straight times from 1973 through 1976 (there was no race in 1974 due to the fuel crisis).
The domination also led MSR to an early lead in the Michelin Endurance Cup, scoring 18 of a possible 20 points in the event that also includes the classics at Sebring, Watkins Glen and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
The victory marks a storybook 20 months for Meyer Shank Racing that kicked off with an Indianapolis 500 victory in 2021 with Castroneves – who had a record-tying fourth Indy 500 victory. Just eight months later and MSR raced to victory in the 60th Running of the Rolex 24 – 10 years after winning it for the first time in 2012. The team bookended the season with a victory at the Motul Petit Le Mans which saw the team clinch the 2022 IMSA DPi Championship.
Meyer Shank Racing Team Quotes:
“I am so proud of everything this team has accomplished. Thank you to Acura, HPD, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti – it was a team effort and we all worked together to get to this point. Since we got our hands on this car after Petit Le Mans last year, our guys have worked countless hours on this car. And I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when we started this race, but it goes to show the work that was put in behind the scenes to make it to the finish on top. We had a few things pop up during the race – we had a small battery issue and we had to keep the engine running so that was a little bit stressful. But we worked through it. The stand made great strategy calls, the crew had perfect pit stops and the drivers exceeded my expectations, I couldn’t be happier with this result.”
“It’s a team effort. What’s amazing here at this team is that everyone is able to achieve and reach their potential and that’s really important. What Mike (Shank) and Jim (Meyer) have done to create a good atmosphere within the team, it’s such an open book and I think that allows everyone to work to the best of their abilities. Especially for me, I’m confident because they put a lot of trust and faith in me and I am so grateful for that. Last year I was on the stand watching at the end and this year I felt a lot better about being in the car because I was in control of our own destiny. The feeling I had when I exited the Le Mans Chicane on the last lap and of course seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces is incredible.”
“I’m super proud of these guys, Acura, Honda and the entire Meyer Shank Racing team. We never went back to the garage and for Acura to finish 1-2 it’s an incredible deal. On the team side these guys had great pit stops. We had a few small things pop up that they were able to manage the whole time. And big props to Ryan (McCarthy) and Vincent (Forges) on top of the timing stand for managing all the different things we had going on and had to stay on top of. Great teammates, great car and great result and now we just have to keep it going.”
“Everyone did an amazing job – Acura, HPD and the entire MSR team. And I’m not talking about everyone from the sports car side of MSR, even guys from the Indycar side as well – everyone helped to get this car going. This one [win] is right on top, I mean, right together with the Indy 500. This is a special place, a historic place and the talent around this track and within the race, its just huge for me to be able to accomplish, not only with a team that believes in me, you know, but now we keep it going with great teammates. It’s just it’s just a dream come true for sure. When we [MSR] won the Indy 500 in 2021, we knew what we had. Last year was incredible and feel that 2023 is going to be our next incredible journey and we have the people, we have the resources, and we know we can do this. This win is just another stamp on what an incredible team Meyer Shank Racing is.”
“What a race, I am so proud to be a part of this amazing team and I feel so luck to be able to share my first two Rolex 24 victories with such special people. That final stint felt great and that all comes from the environment that I am in – the teammates that I have and what Mike (Shank) and Jim (Meyer) have put together. I have to thank Acura for giving me a car that suits me well and I really enjoy driving. Overall it was a lot of fun, I was rally in the one, especially in that last stint.”