The 2024 NTT INDYCAR season officially kicked off with private testing at Homestead Miami Speedway this week. The Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) team came into the new year with a clean slate, new driver lineup and high morale as engines were fired in preparation for the March 10th season opener in St. Petersburg.
MSR’s revamped 2024 driver lineup features the team’s IMSA championship winning driver Tom Blomqvist and newly recruited Felix Rosenqvist to tackle three days of pre-season testing.
With one car set for on track activity, the three days were split with Rosenqvist taking on the first day while Blomqvist was in the seat for the latter two days. For the first time in four years Rosenqvist made his return to a Honda powered IndyCar and quickly felt back at home.
“It was a lot of impressions; first day with the team, but I feel like we were pretty prepped going into it, but you have to be when you have a limited number of tires,” said Rosenqvist. “You always have a lot of question marks before you get into the car, but it felt very natural to get up to speed. It was really nice to get to know my engineers and mechanics more. I have been working with them in the off season, but it’s good to see how everyone operates under pressure and what the general kind of vibe is when you’re out at the track.”
The second and third days of testing saw Blomqvist take the reins as the Brit entered the car with a newfound confidence. Blomqvist made his IndyCar debut last season, filling in for three races in the latter half of the season. A trial-by-fire saw Blomqvist take on the streets of Toronto, Portland and Laguna Seca.
After learning a lot very quickly in those three starts Blomqvist got to work in the off-season, with a strong focus on adapting his own fitness routine to be best prepared for the demands of the Indy Car. The work paid off as Blomqvist gained 9 lbs (and counting) of muscle and gave him a greater sense of relaxation and confidence behind the wheel at Homestead.
“It was cool to get back out there and start that program off in the new year,” said Blomqvist. “Everyone is starting from scratch. I was definitely a bit more relaxed and more comfortable. It’s still a work in progress for me, but I’m feeling a lot more confident and comfortable going into the season. I still have one more test and I am going to keep chipping away and building on what we have going on already. The team was working really well and the package felt like it was really strong.”
Also in attendance at the test was Helio Castroneves, but this time with a new title as MSR minority partner and driver coach. Despite adjusting to the change of not being behind the wheel, Castroneves provided valuable feedback for the two MSR young-bloods.
“I’m not going to lie, it was very difficult to not be in the car, but you have to switch hats and right now I’m excited to be doing something that I really enjoy,” said the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner. “It was great getting to work with Felix for the first time, he was very nice and his feedback was really professional. Tom, he continued his progress from last year. Although my role at the test was different from usual, it was nice to be able to stand on the pit stand and listen to the radio and give my two cents on the intercom when the drivers came in. I think we have a really great year ahead of us.”
MSR will have one more test at Sebring International Raceway at the end of February before taking one the first race of the season – the Firestone Grand Prix of St.Petersburg on March 10th.