Daly steps in last minute at Mid-Ohio to substitute for Pagenaud
Lexington, Ohio – (2 July 2023) – Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) returned to its home track for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the new Accord Hybrid, but the trip back to the Buckeye State proved to be a trying one for the Pataskala-based outfit as MSR came home 20thand 21st.
Challenges for the team started early on Saturday as Simon Pagenaud – driver of the No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda – suffered a manufacturer brake failure heading into Turn 4, forcing Pagenaud to leave the track at approximately 180mph. The MSR machine barrel-rolled through the large expanse of sand of the left-hand side of the track, destroying his car. Although he walked away from the 84g incident, the series’ medical team could not clear him to compete in Sunday’s race.
Veteran Conor Daly was pressed into action in the No. 60 Honda for Sunday’s event and came from 27th on the grid to place 20th despite having just one 30-minute practice session in the MSR car ahead of the race start.
A caution on the opening lap allowed the team to call Daly in to top off his fuel tank and switch over to the preferred primary tires prior to the Lap 4 restart, which enabled the Indiana-born driver to flash into the top 10 as the field cycled through pit stops. Daly ran well in the final stint, closing a five second gap in nearly six laps, passing his new teammate and earn the 20th spot.
Meanwhile, Helio Castroneves – No. 06 AutoNation / Sirius XM Honda – started the 80-lap event from 19th on the grid and was unable to gain much ground in the largely-processional race around the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Castroneves stayed on the pit sequence with the leaders and finished in 21st.
Pagenaud remained on hand to support his MSR teammates Sunday, joining them trackside for Sunday morning’s warmup. He will need to be evaluated by the series’ medical team again in the coming weeks before he can be declared fit to compete in the team’s next race – the Honda Indy Toronto on July 16.
“It’s just a different car, at the beginning of the race I just had to get used to it. It took me about 30, 40 laps to really understand how to attack in this car, and I like it, but when you lose one stint in these races it’s hard to get it back. Once we got help up by Pederson, we were on the back foot, and that’s my fault. But the car was amazing, once we got in clear air and got ahead of some of those cars it was fantastic. At the end to be able to close in on the two cars in from of me by seconds at a time felt really good. I very much enjoy being out there. I felt like could drive how I wanted to drive. The team did an amazing job getting me up to speed with only one practice, so I can’t thank them, Mike Shank and Jim Meyer enough for giving me this opportunity.”
“At the end of the day it wasn’t the result that we wanted – we finished 20th and 21st. Conor (Daly) did an amazing job recovering from 27th and big props to him for jumping in the car and doing what he did. I made some decisions that were not right for the set up that we had and it just destroyed our race. It’s a shame because we deserve better. We’re going to get it, you just can’t give up.”