Monterey, Calif. – (10 September 2023) – Four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves (No. 06 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda) ended his career as a full-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver in high style Sunday, making up a season-high 14 positions to finish 13th in the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.
Castroneves was 27th and last in the field at the start of the 95-lap event, but the Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) veteran needed less than a lap to turn his fortunes around. Deft avoidance of a multi-car incident on the opening lap allowed the Brazilian to gain 10 spots before making a full lap around the 2.238-mile WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The incident was a harbinger of things to come as Castroneves survived multiple setbacks, including a 720-degree spin on Lap 26, nose contact on a Lap 36 restart and another in a two-car spin on Lap 74, but avoided major damage and kept his MSR team in the hunt.
As he did through 391 series starts – a number that is second in series history – Castroneves fought all the way to the end, making up a spot on the last circuit of the day to finish on the lead lap in 13th.
MSR rookie Tom Blomqvist (No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda), also improved 10 spots in the first-lap melee and gained more valuable experience with the team ahead of his full-season INDYCAR debut in 2024.
Blomqvist worked his way to to run a race-high of sixth by the time the race surpassed the halfway mark. He continued to keep that pace and manage several additional restarts. Unfortunately, lap 61 contact on one of the final restarts caused enough damage to send the No. 60 Honda back to the garage with the day ending early.
Meyer Shank Racing is eager to turn the page and look ahead to next season which will see the team continue to grow in the INDYCAR SERIES. Felix Rosenqvist and Tom Blomqvist are tabbed to run the full-season with MSR. Castroneves will continue his Drive for 5 in 2024 and be MSR’s third car in the Indianapolis 500. In addition, Castroneves will play several important roles behind the scenes, serving as driver coach, team ambassador as well as minority partner to the team.
“You know what everything happened in this race. That’s the way it should be, right. We had spinning out, crashing, reverse, coming back, and we still finished 13th – which is my daughters volleyball T-shirt number, so that’s perfect. But at the end of the day it was a great team effort. What an honor to work with these guys and I’m looking forward continuing with them in 2024 for the Indy 500. Now let’s see what we can make happen with Tom and Felix representing the team next season. Thank you everyone for everything and wishing you all an incredible off season. I also want to send a big ‘Hi’ to my friend Simon Pagenaud as well, I’m always praying for you, my friend, all the best.”
“That was a pretty wild race. I’m disappointed in how our race had to end – I got caught up in one of those restarts and it unfortunately ended our day early. I thought we had some good pace and the guys on the stand were making good strategy calls. We definitely got lucky a few times, but this race was also about being lucky to a point. It’s tough to end out the season like this, but it’s been great to get a head start on my full-season effort for next year. I can’t thank Mike and Jim enough for giving me this opportunity to fill in this year, and I’m looking forward to ’24.”