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

Harvey Looks for More Success at Mid Ohio

Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar

Jack Harvey returns to the scene of his best weekend of his Road to Indy career, where he swept both races. Mid Ohio is also the home track of his car owner, Michael Shank. No pressure there. Still Harvey is excited to return to Mid Ohio and the Honda indy 200, were he started fifth and finished seventh in race 1 last year.

In talking to the media yesterday, Harvey discussed what mid Ohio means to him and the team, and how his 2021 season is going.

“It’s massive, mate. It’s such a special place for the team, obviously it being Michael’s home race, the track that he grew up at, so everyone at Meyer Shank Racing is obviously very excited. Mid-Ohio was a place that I got my first win in North America back in Indy Lights, and just a track that has flowed pretty well for me the whole time I’ve been there.”

Mid Ohio is known to have rain on race weekends. The rain during qualifying for Race 2 last year cost Harvey several positions on the grid., Harvey doesn’t mind rain at this track.

“Honestly I even like it when it’s raining. We had the wrong setting in the car. We still had our dry pedal map in, so just a bit of an oversight on my side but also maybe on the team’s side, as well. Man, it just flows. It’s a super great track. There’s a nice bit of elevation change there, a lot of the corners kind of link together, so you might have three corners that actually all directly feed into the next one, so your car placement, your precision. I feel like I have gone well on tracks like that, been able to like give a little to try and get a little in a certain part of the corner.”

Harvey summed 2021 for him so far as having a competitive pace, but finding misfortune, especially in the last six races. He told the media:

“… we’ve been quick everywhere. Certainly we have momentum. Just things that together as a team we’re learning. I would say we don’t often repeat mistakes. We have an uncanny ability at the minute to find new ones, which I’m hoping that we kind of stop doing that, but just from a sheer pace perspective, we’ve got that at the minute. But like you said, you look at the people around the championship, and it’s an unusual year because there’s a lot of really great drivers who have been on the receiving end of not necessarily bad luck but just unfortunate events, and like I was talking to Michael this week, we started the season well, we’ve had great pace everywhere, but the last six races for us, I mean, have been pretty not awesome.”

An ambitious strategy call at Road America cost Harvey at least 10 spots in the final results. Harvey related, “Looking back at Road America, our strategy call was aggressive, probably more aggressive than what I would have done if they’d have radioed me and asked, but at the end of the day I think it also shows the desire and aspirations of the team that we’re here to try and get really great results. Honestly I really believe that we’re on the brink of it, we just need them pieces to come together on a smooth weekend, and I think we can do it.”

Jack Harvey at Road America. Photo by James Black, Indycar

As for having Helio Castroneves as a teammate, Harvey enjoys him, and is looking forward to Indycar’s Nashville debut.

“I just like having Helio around, really. He has enthusiasm. He’s an incredibly nice guy. I don’t think there was one person at the Indy 500 who wasn’t happy to see him win. That’s just the kind of guy he is. You know, one of the things that gets a bit of a challenge, for as great as it is having another car there, attention is all getting pulled a little bit away, but Andretti Autosport have five full-time guys if you include us in their stable, so there’s plenty of data to be looking at. But it certainly doesn’t hurt. I just hope that as a team we have to be ready to put people in place to be able to deal and handle with all the extra work that comes along with that car, but I know we’re talking about Mid-Ohio, but if you look just forward to Nashville just for a moment, I think everyone is so incredibly excited for that race. It would be great to have a great weekend this weekend and take that positive energy, momentum into hopefully a great Nashville because August and September are about as busy as what you can be, I think, in an INDYCAR season.”

Jack Harvey is still seeking his first Indycar victory. This weekend at Mid Ohio might be the track where he sees Victory Circle. A win would be huge for him and Michael Shank. While Mid Ohio is still mainly a tack that roots for the Rahals, Mike Shank and crew may give them a new hometown hero to cheer for.

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.

Rossi Tops Sebring Test Day

Photo: Indycar, Chris Owens

Alexander Rossi led a strong showing by Andretti Autosport at Sebring on Tuesday with a quick lap of 52.27 seconds. Teammate Colton Herta was second, followed by Jack Harvey and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan duo of Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato were next in line.

Photo-Chris Owens Indycar

Harvey, of Meyer Shank Racing had a technical alliance with Andretti last year. I look for a strong year from Harvey. The team has a full year under their belt, and having Helio Castroneves as a teammate for six races should help as well.

Dalton Kellett and A, J, Foyt Racing tested both days and seemed happy with the team’s progress.

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.

Castroneves Returns to Indycar; 6 Race Program with Meyer Shank

Three time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will run six races in the 2021 NTT Indycar series in Meyer Shank Racing’s second car. Castroneves willenter the events at Barber, Long Beach, the Indianapolis 500, The IMS road course race in August, Portland, and Laguna Seca.

Castroneves, 45, has run in the IMSA Weather Tech series the last three years for Roger Penske’s Acura team. he and teammate Ricky Taylor could clinch the championship this weekend at Sebring. Castroneves has run the Indianapolis 500 the past three years. In 2020 he also raced in both races at the Harvest Grand Prix at IMS for Arrow McLaren SP.

Michael Shank slowly built up to a full time schedule with current Indycar driver Jack Harvey. He ran a six race schedule, then a 10 race program, and in 2020 became a full time program. he plans to follow a similar schedule with the second car.

With Penske dissolving his sports car team and Shank assuming one of the Acura prototypes, it is not a huge leap to think that Castroneves will fill the rest of 2021 in the IMSA series.

Indycar Season Preview, Part II: Teams That Should Improve

Here are four teams I think should show improvement over their 2019 performance. They are presented in no particular order.

Meyer Shank Racing

Michael Shank has finally reached his dream of a full time entry in the NTT Indycar Series.  Jack Harvey did well early in 2019 when the team ran virtually every race, culminating in a podium at the Indycar Grand Prix. When the team had a gap before their next race, their performance dropped off. The consistency of a full season will help the team do well in 2020.

Not hurting their chances is the technical alliance with Andretti Autosport. Colton Herta had this same arrangement last year, and he did all right.  Harvey had three top 10s in his first six races. He was 13th in points after the Indianapolis 500. I think he may have moved up a spot or two had he run every race in 2019.

Arrow McLaren SP

On the surface, it appears this team is doing everything the wrong way. They signed a rookie driver and one with eight races of experience. In the process, they fired their most veteran driver. They are bringing in a new engineering staff. Even the ownership has seen a shakeup. In the team’s favor is that all of the new pieces have a lot of talent.

Rookie Oliver Askew is a steady driver. The 2019 Indy Lights champion is  focused and analytical behind the wheel. Pato O’Ward had a roller coaster season bouncing from series to series. I think he will show his appreciation for having a full time ride. Both drivers were in the top 10 at Spring Training.

The third element that will help AMSP is engineer Craig Hampson, who joined the team after working with Sebastien Bourdais. Hampson and Bourdais won several championships together, and the pair gave the Dale Coyne team some relevance. The team may need a race or two to get their footing, but I think they will have enough good results to call their season successful.

From Yesterday- https://thepitwindow.blog/2020/02/27/indycar-season-preview-part-i-coyne-foyt-carlin-look-to-improve/

Rahalk Letterman Lanigan

This group seems to always be looking for consistency. Graham Rahal said on Content Day, “When we were strong at a track, both of ttling battling tus were strong. When we struggled at a track, both of us struggled.”

Takuma Sato was ninth in the final standings and Rahal finished tenth. They are not that far off from moving up in the top 10. Sato won twice and earned two poles. Rahal started on the front row at Barber but was sidelined by mechanical problems. It was a steady season for two drivers who still weren’t satisfied.

RLL should have a few better race results, but moving up in the final standings may be difficult battling the three teams that make up half the grid. Both drivers can win a race and I could see that happening in 2020.

Ed Carpenter Racing

The oval program is solid, especially at Indianapolis. Two spots on the front row last year and three poles in the 500 are a great qualifying record. The team is still looking to improve their road and street course performance. I think they are on their way to doing just that.

The road/street team of Conor Daly and rookie Rinus VeeKay are capable of turning the  team’s fortunes around. Daly seems to make any car he drives better. With a full season at the same team ECR should improve as the year goes on. VeeKay, the Indy Lights runner-up needs to focus his energy and adapt quickly to the nuances of Indycar. He is a talented, consistent driver.

How many more seasons will Ed Carpenter drive the oval races? Only Ed knows that answer. His runner-up finish at Gateway last August shows he isn’t ready to step out of the car yet. I think in a couple of years he will cut back to Indy only, but for now there isn’t any good reason to stop.

A good season for this team on the road courses would be some second round qualifying results and a few top ten race finishes. The talent is there. I can see this team putting it together, especially after Indianapolis.

 

Monday I’ll preview the Big Three. Tomorrow- a summary of all the great news that happened this week in Indycar.

Update with Comments: Meyer-Shank, Harvey Set for Full Time Run

I’m very happy to see Meyer-Shank and Jack Harvey will run the entire season for the next two years.

Michael Shank has set a great example for other fledgling teams of how to build up to a full season. I admire his tireless work to get to this point.

Last year Harvey had good results in the first  part of the season where they ran the majority of their schedule. After the team took a break, they seemed to struggle in the remaining races which were scattered through the last part of the year. I’m hoping the consistency of running every race will provide even better results.

With Meyer-Shank in an alliance with Andretti, this eliminates any chance of another full time car. i wouldn’t be surprised if there is an extra entry for May, though.

Their video is very cool. Welcome to a full season, MSR.

There Is Some Other News

Good morning on the third consecutive day that Roger Penske hasn’t bought anything.  A few other news items actually happened.

Indy Autonomous Challenge

Universities will compete for a $1 million prize in a race for self-driving vehicles at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway October 23, 2021. The contest was announced at the SEMA show in Las Vegas.  Teams will use the Indy Lights chassis and develop an autonomous car.

Read the full story here- https://www.indycar.com/News/2019/11/11-05-Autonomous-Car-Event-IMS

While this may be the future of road cars, i hope we never see the 500 become a race for either  autonomous or electric cars . While the race will be intriguing, I would n’t want to see an entire series with these vehicles.

Aeroscreen Cooling the Last Remaining Issue

The NTT Indycar Series Aeroscreen testing has encountered some fortuitous weather during the test sessions.  Barber provided a test of the new protection device in the rain. Tuesday’s test at Sebring allowed the drivers to see how heat will affect the car.

It appears some helmet modifications will occur to get more air to the drivers.

From indycar. com: https://www.indycar.com/News/2019/11/11-05-Aeroscreen-Sebring

From the photos I saw from  Sebring, the aeroscreen is barely noticeable at speed. It will probably stick out more during the pace laps and caution periods.

Open-Wheels 500

An iracing event, the Open Wheels 500, has begun practice. 104 entries will vie for 33 spots in this weekend’s qualifying for next weekend’s race. The Pit Window sponsors next Saturday’s Pit Stop Competition. I will post reports every other day on activities relating to the event.

From race director and Open-Wheels owner Tanner John Watkins:

Open-Wheels.com is hosting a 500-mile race (at Indianapolis) on the popular iRacing Motorsports Simulation. Individuals from around the world (104 in total on this year’s entry list) will attempt to qualify for a spot in the field of 33 this weekend, and those 33 will run a full 500-mile race at iRacing’s scanned Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, November 17.

iRacing has long been considered the most authentic motorsports simulation (not video game) available to the public – primarily due to their laser scanning process that replicates every bump, crack, and characteristic of racing surfaces for our favorite tracks… from Indy, all the way to the Nürburgring.

You can find more information at Open-Wheels.com. Click the OpenWheels 500 tab at the top.

There was some confusion about my post yesterday. I hope this clears things up.

Meyer Shank Announcement Tomorrow

Meyer-Shank racing will announce their 2020 plans tomorrow. Jack harvey should be driving for the team again, which is expected to have an alliance with Andretti Autosport. Meyer Shank planned to run the full season. We’ll find out tomorrow.