Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) encountered both sides of the coin in today’s 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500, seeing a potential top-10 finish for Simon Pagenaud go by the boards in a late-race crash, while Helio Castroneves charged from the back of the field to place 15th.
A flawless first half of the 200-lap race gave way to a chaotic second half of the event where incidents caused three consecutive red-flag stoppages, where close-quarter restarts led to a number of collisions and wrecked race cars.
Pagenaud (No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda) used solid fuel mileage to extend his runs and climb through the field from his 22nd starting spot on the grid, and was poised to give MSR its fourth consecutive year of finishing in the top 10 in Indy as he made his last pit stop with 30 laps to run.
A lap 184 crash caused a lengthy delay and set Pagenaud 11th in the field when the race restarted with eight laps left to run, when the 2019 Indy 500 winner’s day ended. A crash in front of him led to contact from behind that sent Pagenaud into a tail spin, ending his day in 25th.
Meanwhile Castroneves (No. 06 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda) used a great pit stop on lap 64 to gain seven spots and move into 12th place as the halfway mark approached. A subsequent pit stop to cure a wheel vibration dropped Castroneves a lap down to the field, but the Brazilian fought back.
Castroneves got his lap back in the second half of the race as the field split into two fuel strategies for the latter part of the event. Castroneves climbed briefly into the top 10 and eventually led the race on lap 135.
Castroneves deftly avoided the incidents over the two dozen laps and made up ground on the field, ending his day in 15th, his second-best finish on his 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES campaign.
MSR will have a quick turnaround as the team heads to Detroit for next weekend’s Detroit Grand Prix, which takes place on the all-new street course in downtown Detroit on Sunday June 4th.
"We didn’t have the speed to really move forward today, and after our third pit stop we lost the balance a bit. I had a big sideways moment, so something was wrong and I had to come in to make a stop that was off schedule. So from there, we just had to manage that. I had to make some amazing saves, but I can’t believe that we were still able to finish in the top 15! Congrats to Team Penske and Josef (Newgarden) on getting the Borg today."
“It was a great job from the team all day: a great strategy. We worked on the car all day to make it faster as we moved up through the field – and we were in a nice position for a top 10 finish at the end of the day. So, mission almost accomplished, though of course we’re always going for the win. This is Indianapolis, so after lap 150, the attitude of every driver changed – but that’s how you play the ‘500: get to lap 150 and then go for it. And that can create incidents because everyone is going for the same space. Who knows what would have happened with all these red flags, but unfortunately, I got rear ended under yellow. Cars ahead of us were crashing, it was yellow, I was slowing down – but the car behind me didn’t slow down and took me out in a pretty big crash. It’s unacceptable: obviously, in oval racing, you’ve got to be eyes-up, so I hope that driver understands the mistake he made. That kind of behavior is dangerous at that speed. I feel terrible for the team, a great day for us today ending up being crashed under yellow.”