Third PLM victory on the way to third in 2023 IMSA Championship
BRASELTON, Ga. (14 Oct. 2023) – Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) with Curb-Agajanian closed the chapter on its Acura Prototype program with a victory in Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans, the final IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race of the season.
Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun and Helio Castroneves bookended the IMSA season for the No. 60 MSR Acura ARX-06 for the second year in a row, winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona in addition to a mid-season triumph at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. It was MSR’s third victory in the event, a repeat triumph for Blomqvist and Castroneves and a career first for Braun after three second-place finishes. Winning last year in the final year for the DPi class, this victory was in a new LMDh hybrid in the rejuvenated GTP category.
The victory was far from straightforward after contact with nearly eight hours remaining meant playing catchup for much of the 10-hour event.
Blomqvist ran second for nearly an hour when he fell victim to the heavy traffic in the final turn. Pushed to the outside by an LMP2 competitor, Blomqvist was bumped by a GTD contender, damaging the car’s left-rear suspension. The MSR Acura continued to the pits where the team quickly replaced a bent toe link.
Castroneves returned to the race following the contact running ninth, one lap down. Driving at one point with rear-wing damage after contact, the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner was back on the lead lap and running sixth when he pitted with 5:52 remaining, turning the car over to Braun. With two hours remaining, the MSR Acura was running ninth in the order.
With just under an hour to go MSR made the strategic and race-winning decision to stay out during a 30-minute caution period while several other GTP cars pitted for fuel. Braun made a decisive move to secure the lead on the restart and never looked back despite a nail-biting second caution period and restart with under 15-minutes to go. Once again dominating the restart, Braun held the lead to win his first-ever Motul Petit Le Mans, and the third Petit Le Mans victory for MSR.
The victory moved the team to third in the provisional IMSA GTP championship standings ahead of taking a pause for MSR’s sports car program that began in the Grand-Am Rolex Series in 2004. For 2024, Blomqvist will transfer to the team’s INDYCAR SERIES, and will be joined in the Indy 500 by Castroneves in his quest for an unprecedented fifth victory in the classic.
Meyer Shank Racing Driver Quotes:
“That race was up and down, left and right, it was crazy. What a fantastic job by the team, I couldn’t be more proud and grateful to be a part of it. What we have achieved in the past two seasons is simply incredible. Good things happen to good people. We’re a hard working bunch and we deserve it. Colin at the end there, absolutely fantastic. The guy is a killer on the restarts and I’m very grateful to be a part of this team.”
“I knew it was going to be hard at the end there and it’s always fun to fight to the finish like that. But man, what an awesome job by the entire team. I just put it all on the line at the end, we had nothing to lose. It was going to be a big commitment and I put my head down and tried to hold on. This season has been crazy for us, but it all came down to this last race and the entire team never gave up and it showed today.”
“Two in a row, MSR delivers again! I mean obviously we are so thankful for Acura for giving us an incredible machine. And a big shout out to the entire MSR crew for never giving up. It’s a shame that this program is not continuing next year but what a way to go out this year. I could not be more proud of everyone on this team.”