If a Ticket Sprouts Can Spring be Far Behind?

Ticket unveiling day always brings the promise of May. It serves as a mid winter lift of the spirit. We are just a little more than five months away. The ticket for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 was unveiled tonight by the 2021 winner Helio Castroneves. Castroneves, the fourth four time winner, will drive full time for Meyer Shank Racing in 2022.

The May 29 race will mark the first time in 30 years that a driver will have a chance to win a fifth 500. Rick Mears was the last driver to have that opportunity in 1992.

I think they could have chosen a photo with a more expressive Helio. The posed shot seems very static, especially for the spontaneous Castroneves, whose display of exuberance after winning last May was a joy to watch.

The unveiling capped the opening day of the PRI show, which returned to Indianapolis after a two year COVID induced absence. 62,000 people are attending this year’s show which has displays in the Indianapolis Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium.

Some photos from this evening taken by The Pit Window camera crew (me):

Doug Boles, IMS President, introduces Castroneves
Castroneves gets his first look at the ticket bearing his image.

Indianapolis 500 Ticket; Juncos Hollinger Unveils 2022 Car

This Thursday, December 9, The ticket for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 will be revealed at the PRI show in downtown Indianapolis. 2021 winner Helio Castroneves will be on hand for the ceremony. The event will be streamed beginning at 5:45 Eastern Time on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Facebook page.

Juncos Hollinger Car Keeps Juncos Green

The livery for Juncos Hollinger for 22 has the familiar look of a car from the Juncos stable. The number 77 car, to be driven by rookie Callum Ilott, has the green and white with black trim we saw when Juncos last had a car in the Indianapolis 500.

Photo from Juncos Hollinger Facebook page

The unveiling may mean the team will not be partnering with Carlin as some thought. Will getting a sponsor change the livery? It is entirely possible, although it seems in the past Ricardo Juncos has been able to keep this color scheme no matter what sponsors he gets.

A Yard of Bricks with Two Feet of Bronze

Photo: The four 4 time winners. Chris Owens, Indycar

  • Marti Uprate. She is at Vanderbilt Hospital and saw numerous doctors today. I had to come home to take care of a problem and will be heading back tomorrow. Her length of stay is unknown, but I might still be there for the race next weekend.

Just Catching Up

It’s the little things Roger Penske thinks of that make him a success. The photo above is an example of one of those little things- getting the four four time Indianapolis 500 winners together for a group photo. There might not be many more opportunities to get this group together. A. J. Foyt, the first four time winner, had a commemorative bronze brick installed in the yard of bricks at the start/finish line. The other three will have their own bricks installed this fall.

It is a fitting tribute to these four drivers who have collectively won 15% of the 105 Indianapolis 500s. Will more of these bricks appear in the future? It will be a long time before that happens, if ever. Only two other drivers in this year’s race, Juan Pablo Montoya and Takuma Sato, have won twice. Whether either of them runs another 500 is uncertain right now.

I will be on the road during tomorrow’s Jimmie Johnson media conference tomorrow, but I will get up to date on it tomorrow night and share what I find out.

Reverse Youth Movement at MSR First Silly Season Volley

Don’t tell me you saw this coming. Buoyed by Helio Castroneves’ fourth win in the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500in his second car, Mike Shank has decided to bump up his usual schedule to becoming a full time two car entry. Meyer Shank Racing announced that 47 year old Castroneves will drive the number 06 car full time next year. If the team had stuck to the plan as they did with Jack Harvey, Castroneves, who is running six races this season, would have entered 10 races next year.

In this season where the younger drivers have had a lot of success, Shank decided to go the other way. It is a bold move, and I am curious to see how it plays out.

A bit of irony in the second part of the announcement is that Jack Harvey will race elsewhere in 2022. Harvey has been with Meyer Shank Racing the Indycar program began. No one knows where harvey will end up next season. My guess is he will replace Ryan Hunter-Reay in the 28 car at Andretti Autosport. The 2021 season for Harvey has been marked by good qualifying and not so great results, partly due to team strategy.

Here is the story from Indycar:

Helio Castroneves will return for a full NTT INDYCAR SERIES season in 2022 with Meyer Shank Racing (MSR), driving the No. 06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda.

Castroneves’ attempt to become the first five-time Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner will be a highlight of the season for MSR, and the Ohio-based team is using the “Drive for Five” theme in 2022.

Brazilian Castroneves, 46, joined A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears in the exclusive club of four-time “500” winners with his emotional victory for Meyer Shank – the team’s first win in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES – on May 30. He also is racing this season for MSR at Nashville, Tennessee (Aug. 8), the Indianapolis road course (Aug. 15) and in the season-closing West Coast swing at Portland, Oregon (Sept. 12), Monterey, California (Sept. 19) and Long Beach, California (Sept. 26).

“I am thrilled to get the chance to go for a fifth Indianapolis 500 win and so excited to fight for the INDYCAR championship again with a full season of races next year with Meyer Shank Racing,” Castroneves said. “Mike (Shank) and Jim (Meyer) have developed some incredible sponsorships with AutoNation and SiriusXM, and having that support is critical. I have been missing racing in INDYCAR full time so much! So, I cannot wait to get a head start on next year with some strong races to finish this season.”

With the full-time addition of Castroneves, MSR plans to field two full-time entries in 2022. The No. 60 AutoNation/ SiriusXM Honda, which has been driven by Jack Harvey for the past few seasons, has been renewed for two years, with a new driver who will be announced soon.

“We wish Jack much success, and we know he will continue to be a driver to watch,” MSR co-owner Mike Shank said. “MSR is excited to have Helio on the 06 car next season, and we’re looking forward to adding a driver, who will turn heads in the 60 car.”

In just 42 INDYCAR SERIES races, MSR has collected an Indianapolis 500 victory, two podium finishes, two-front row starts and 12 top-10 finishes. In addition to the team’s on-track accomplishments, MSR is also in the final stages of building a brand new 43,000 square-foot shop in Pataskala, Ohio.

“There are so many people around us that have given us the opportunity to expand to two full-season entries for next year,” Shank said. “My partner Jim Meyer and I have done this in a way that makes sense for us. I am very excited to have Helio onboard for the 2022 season, and I think there will be a lot of excitement around our second driver when we make that announcement, as well.”

Notes

  • Castroneves career stats:

31 Indycar victories and 50 poles

Second in the points standings four times- 2002, 2008, 2013, 2014

  • The 2022 full time grid might be as high as 27 cars.
  • Dario Franchitti will be the Grand Marshall for the Music City Grand Prix

Quick Thoughts on the 105th Indianapolis 500

Just a few observations before I fall asleep while attempting to watch the replay of the race. i will have a more detailed post tomorrow.

As if I need more proof that i am old:

I have seen the fourth victory of all four four time winners. Of their 16 total victories I have seen 14 of them.

Today’s race was one of the best I have ever seen. Anywhere. Definitely one of the top three 500s I have witnessed in person.

It was strange seeing the infield empty. I sit across from the turn 2 mounds and seeing any grass at all is unusual.

Either IMS sold too many seats or people sat wherever they wanted to. I did not observe what i would call social distance seating.

Graham Rahal and Conor Daly are two drivers who never seem to catch a break at the speedway.

The track used to smile on Alexander Rossi. I wonder what he did to make her dislike him.

The crowd reaction to Daly taking the lead was great to hear.

That was an exciting, tense duel between Alex Palou and Helio Castroneves.

Will Helio return next year?

Great job by Simon Pagenaud to finish third from 22nd on the grid.

This has to one of Will Power’s most forgettable days at IMS.

Santino Ferrucci has IMS figured out.

Today was one of the best examples of the saying,, ” The race is won or lost in the pits.”15 pit penalties assessed today. It appears Indycar was very consistent in their rulings.

More tomorrow. Thank you all for following this weekend and during the first week at Indy.

Notes: Castroneves Swaps Barber for Nashville; Alonso Injured

Three time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves has changed his six race schedule with Meyer Shank Racing. Castroneves will now race at the Music City Grand Prix August 8. He will not drive in the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama. The other races on his slate this year remain- the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500, the IMS road course race August 14, Portland, Laguna Seca, and Long Beach.

Castroneves’s number 06 car will carry sponsorship from Transcard at Nashville.

Alonso Fractures Jaw

Fernando Alonso fractured his jaw in a cycling accident Thursday. The two time world F1 champion was hit by a car. He suffered a broken jaw and underwent surgery. Alonso expects to be ready to drive in the F1 season opener. he is driving for Alpine, the former Renault team in 2021. Formula 1 begins with the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix March 28.

Ferrucci Latest Driver to Find Life After Indycar

Photo:Chris Graythen (Getty Images) via Indycar

Santino Ferrucci will drive in 20 Xfinity Series races for Sam Hunt in 2021 as he begins the road to a NASCAR Cup ride. Ferrucci spent the last two years in Indycar driving for Dale Coyne with Vasser Sullivan Racing. He was Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 2019, finishing seventh.

Ferrucci is the latest driver who has found work in another series after losing their Indycar ride. Many factors have caused the drivers to go a different direction. Sometimes it is a budget issue, other times team owners have made the choice.

Zach Veach, released by Andretti Autosport before the end of the 2020 season, will drive full time for Vasser-Sullivan’s GTD team in IMSA. Veach replaces Townsend Bell in the number 12 Lexus, and he will team with veteran Frankie Montecalvo. The car was a series title contender last year.

Helio Castroneves moved to the Team Penske Acura prototype in IMSA in 2018. That program ended with Castroneves winning his first title. He has a busy year coming up. Castroneves will drive in six Indycar races for Meyer-Shank Racing- Barber, Long Beach, the 500, the IMS Road Course race on August 14, Portland, and Laguna Seca. He will also participate in Tony Stewart”s and Ray Evernham’s new SRX series in addition to sports car races in the United States and Europe.

Juan Pablo Montoya was also out of work with the ending of the Team Penske Acura program, but he will return to the Indianapolis 500 with Arrow McLaren SP in May. Montoya will be one of the added drivers for Meyer-Shank’s Acura prototype in IMSA’s four endurance races. The rest of his 2021 season will be in Europe driving Dragonspeed’s LMP2 car in the WEC series.

I really enjoy seeing a driver run in several different series during a season. It would be nice if contracts allowed for more of this.

A Title for Helio at Last

It appeared to be over almost before it had begun. Helio Castroneves watched helplessly from the pit stand as Ricky Taylor had trouble leaving the pits after the Penske Acura’s first pit stop 45 minutes into the 12 Hours of Sebring. A boost issue forced the car back to the garage and cost them 11 laps on track. They would need help to win the IMSA Weather Tech championship. The help came from an unlikely source.

Wayne Taylor Racing, starting the day two points behind the Team Penske duo, looked to be in a solid position to overtake the season leaders. A collision between Scott Dixon, in the Taylor Cadillac and Oliver Jarvis in one of the Mazdas, forced dixon to pit. The team needed to replace the radiator, putting them five laps behind. While still ahead of the Penske car, the Taylor entry couldn’t make up enough positions to gain the three points they needed for the lead.

With the focus on the two cars, the Action Express entry was now in a position to jump into the series championship. hey were well underway until the 10th hour, when Pipo Derani tangled with Juan Pablo Montoya in the other Team Penske car. Derani received a drive through penalty, ending the title hopes for Action Express.

Thus Helio Castroneves, in his final race for team Penske, finally won a title for the Captain. Castroneves had finished second seven times in Indycar for Penske despite three Indianapolis 500 victories and 30 race wins overall. Castroneves begins a new Indycar chapter in 2021 when he drives in six races for Meyer Shank Racing.

Helio’s perseverance in pursuing a championship is admirable. he put in a lot of hard work. It took a little longer than he hoped to finally realize one of his goals.

Indycar Well Represented at Sebring

Indycar drivers and team owners had a good day and night at Sebring. In addition to Castroneves winning the season championship for team Penske, Ryan Hunter-Reay drove for the winning Mazda entry, and Simon Pagenaud was a part of the Team Penske Acura entry which finished second. Two time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya also drove the runner-up car.

Meyer Shank Racing won the season championship in the GTD class with drivers Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry, edging Wright Motorsports by two points. meyer Shank will move to the DPi class next season, taking over one of the Acura entries. Will Castroneves be a part of this venture too?

The Michael Shank Acura, winner of the IMSA Weather Tech GTD title

Other Indycar drivers- Sebastien Bourdais finished fifth overall in his final full time ride. Bourdais will pilot the number14 for A. J. Foyt racing in Indycar in 2021.

Colton Herta ended the night fourth in class driving for RLL.

Sebring- A Race With Many Lasts Could Produce a First

Team Penske could end their time in IMSA with a championship

The Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring, delayed from March, is on for Saturday. Normally the second race of the IMSA Weather Tech Championship, the oddities of 2020 have conspired to make it the last race of the season. Thirty-one cars in four classes will take the green just after 10 am Saturday morning.

This race might play out differently than the race would have at its normal spot in the schedule. In the spring, the race occurs just after the return of Daylight Savings Time. The race is run in just a bit more than two hours in darkness. This weekend, teams and drivers will contend with slightly less than half the race run after sunset, which is around 5:32 pm Saturday. Strange things happen at Sebring after dark, which will make the second half of the race interesting.

IMSA Farewells

Sebring will be the final race for the Team Penske Acuras in the DPi class and the Porsche 911s in the GTLM class. The Porsche team has been a popular mainstay in the IMSA series for a long time.

This weekend also sees some drivers leaving the series. Oliver Gavin is running his final race as a full time drive with the GTLM Corvette. Renger van der Zende and Ryan Briscoe take their final stints in Wayne Taylor Racing’s Cadillac. Taylor will switch to one of the Acura cars next year.

Helio’s First Title?

Helio Castroneves could win his first major series title. He and teammate Ricky Taylor lead the Wayne Taylor team of Briscoe and van der Zende by just two points heading into this weekend’s finale.

Castroneves, who finished second four times in his Indycar career, will have to fend off a familiar nemesis to secure his championship. Six time Indycar champion Scott Dixon is the third driver for Wayne Taylor Racing. Dixon edged Castroneves for the Indycar title in 2008 and 2013.

Castroneves signed with Meyer Shank Racing to run six races in Indycar in 2021, and he is likley to be the extra driver in the endurance races for Shank next season. Shank assumes control of the second Acura prototype in 2021.

Should Castroneves take the championship, at certain Indycar races the grid could feature an IMSA champion, a seven time NASCAR champion(jimmkie Johnson), a three time Australian Supercar Champion (Scott McLaughlin), a four time Indycar champion(Sebastien Bourdais), and Dixon, the newly crowned six time Indycar titlist.

Indycar Drivers in the Field

Several Indycar drivers, current and former, will be driving this weekend, most of them in the Prototype class. By car number-

5- Bourdais

6- Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud

7- Helio Castroneves, Alexander Rossi

10- Briscoe

55- Ryan Hunter- Reay

25- Colton Herta (GTLM BMW for Rahal)

Coverage begins on NBCSN at 10 am, switches to NBC from 3-6, then ends on NBCSN at 6.