Birmingham, Ala. (30 April 2023) – Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) saw another tough outing at Barber Motorsports Park after getting caught out by an untimely yellow which put Simon Pagenaud 18th and Helio Castroneves 21st following the 90-lap event on Sunday.
Pagenaud (No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda) started 16th and made up a pair of spots in the opening laps, running 14th when the field started executing its first round of pit stops. Pagenaud stretched his opening fuel load while on a lengthy 30 lap opening stint on Firestone red tires. The Frenchman briefly visited the top 10 before the first stop and settling back into the 15th position.
With the field split between two and three-stop strategies, it would all come down to the sole yellow flag on Lap 38. With both Pagenaud and Castroneves on a two-stop strategy, the yellow flag left them and several other competitors on the wrong side of the caution period, with half of the field getting in an extra stop for fuel and tires.
Once restarted, Pagenaud threatened to climb toward the top half of the 27-car field after his final stop in the 90-lap race, but slipped off the left side of the track and onto the grass while jockeying for position with 18 laps to go. He saved the MSR machine and got back on track, but the momentary loss of speed cost him three spots. Pagenaud chased the cars immediately ahead, but the need to save fuel to make it to the finish prevented him from using his push-to-pass and forced him to settle for 18th.
Castroneves (No. 06 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda) started 21st and spent the day trying to work his way forward. The Brazilian made two passes in the waning laps to move into 21st, where he would finish.
With four races behind the team, MSR will head to Indianapolis for the month of May, where a pair of races await. The May 13th GMR Grand Prix will run on the 2.439-mile road course inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, followed by the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500, which takes place on May 28th.
“I was really happy with the reds [tires], but my middle stint on black tires was no good. I felt like the tires never really came up to pressure, so the car was extremely difficult to drive. I was so happy to see the red Firestones back on at the end. Unfortunately in a battle with [Josef] Newgarden, I lost a few positions. It was hard earned, but nonetheless we had a good day, Barber is always a fun track to drive.”
“The AutoNation, SiriusXM, Cliffs, Arctic Wolf machine was actually not bad, we just couldn’t find our rhythm. We were saving a lot of fuel in the beginning of the race since we decided to do two stops. I also got tapped in Turn 5 so I lost two positions, and then I lost another two others in turn one. At the end of the day, the team did an amazing job, big kudos to them.”