St. Petersburg, Fla., (23 March 2023) – Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) drivers Helio Castroneves (No. 06 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda) and Simon Pagenaud (No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda) saw their 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opener end after a single lap when a crash on the tight street course claimed both cars.
Both Castroneves and Pagenaud were eliminated in a six-car crash just after the start of Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, leaving them unable to continue. Castroneves, who started 15th, made it through the first corner and was picking through the tight opening complex of curves when cars started to slow in response to a competitors’ wall contact ahead.
The three-time St. Petersburg winner started to slow just before he was hit from behind, spinning him into the wall and leaving the Brazilian unable to continue due to the damage.
Pagenaud, who started 25th after contact left him unable to post a qualifying time Saturday, found himself without an escape route in the melee, as an available opening to his right closed quickly when a competitor bounced from his left and took off the left side of his MSR machine.
The resulting damage also ended Pagenaud’s day, leaving the Frenchman to finish 26th while Castroneves placed 23rd. The team will have almost a full month to rebuild the cars and prepare for the next round of the series, which will take place on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval on April 2.
Helio Castroneves (No. 06 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda) – Started 15th, Finished 23rd (Lap 1 Contact):
“Great work by the AMR Safety Group, it is a shame that I had to try them out so early in the year. I have no idea what happened, I got hit from behind and then I saw a lot of cars flying around. It shows how the safety in these cars has improved, because that was a big crash and to see everybody come out of it OK is great.”
Simon Pagenaud (No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda) – Started 25th, Finished 26th (Lap 1 Contact):
“I kind of expected (the crash) to be honest. It has been a tricky area all weekend. I had no room to go. I thought I was going to get through. I thought I had made it. Unfortunately, I am paying a high price for yesterday’s mistake in qualifying. But we will regroup, we have fast cars at Meyer Shank Racing and we’ll be alright.”