Pagenaud finishes 17th, Castroneves 19th
Monterey, Calif. (11 September 2022) – The 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season came to an end this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) drivers Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves collecting 17th and 19th place finishes.
With Pagenaud qualifying the No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda 11th and Castroneves qualifying the No. 06 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda 12th, the team strategized between the three and four stop strategy for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey – knowing that the Laguna Seca track surface is notorious for heavy tire wear.
Opting for a four stop strategy, Pagenaud and Castroneves took the green with no fuel save in mind. Pagenaud moved up following the green flag to run ninth in the opening segment. Pagenaud was on a charge, racing to as high as fifth before his first stop on Lap 14.
Pagenaud got into a rhythm halfway through his second stint when he was unexpectedly pushed wide going into Turn 3 by the No. 8 car, forcing the Frenchman off track. Quick hands by Pagenaud kept the No. 60 Honda out of the wall and back on track, only falling back three positions to 12th.
The final stint saw Pagenaud trail back initially but then regain pace in the closing 10 laps of the race which saw him make up two additional positions to finish 17th.
Starting 12th, Castroneves was pushed wide in Turn 1 with the No. 06 Honda dropping two wheels and falling back to 24th. The Brazilian quickly regained control and moved back up to 20th before diving into pit land on Lap 7 for his first stop.
Struggling with oversteer in his first stint, the team made adjustments through the stop which saw Castroneves begin to regain pace as he ran just outside of the top ten. With the rear tires losing valuable grip in the closing laps of the race, Castroneves did everything he could to hang on to the finish, crossing the line 19th.
The 2022 IndyCar season was the first full-season with two full-time team entries for Meyer Shank Racing. The team will return to 2023 IndyCar competition with Castroneves and Pagenaud back in its stable.
“We had a good start today, but unfortunately we got knocked off the track by Ericsson and lost a bunch of positions. From there it was very difficult to come back, obviously, so that is a bit of a shame. But overall, looking at the full season, we have a lot of work to do over the winter so we can keep making the car better. I think our qualifying pace is there, but we need to work on our race pace and tire degradation. We are going to go back and regroup, get stronger as a group. It was awesome to have a little bit of a battle with Helio there at the end. I had a blast this year this year with these guys and this is just the beginning to a great story.”
“There’s no question that Laguna is a very difficult track especially on the tires. We managed to get the car to be really good in one of the middle stints, but at the end the rears just gave up. P19 isn’t the result that we wanted but it’s been a great season for us to collect information. Now, Simon and I have one year under our belt and we can work on the details in the off season. I know we’ll come back super strong in 2023.