Castroneves: Pagenaud will help put MSR “on the next level”

Castroneves: Pagenaud will help put MSR “on the next level”

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Castroneves, who took his fourth Indy win last May in his very first race with the Jim Meyer-Michael Shank-owned organization, has moved from part-time to full-time with the Ohio team. This year, Jack Harvey has departed to be replaced by Castroneves’ former Team Penske teammate Pagenaud, and the Brazilian veteran is anticipating strong performances right out of the box, despite a shift in personnel.

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“We’re starting the championship with new people again just because the part-timers last year weren’t able to continue,” he observed. “However, Mike has a talent to find great quality people. Really, really, really looking forward to St. Pete. When you have that kind of preparation… [remember] what we did last year without any preparation. Now you can only imagine having everyone in sync. It’s just going to get better…

“Street course we were doing pretty well – started third last year in Long Beach, but the strategy unfortunately didn’t work out the way we wanted. Road course, yes, we weren’t finding the sweet spot like we did in Long Beach, for example.

“But that’s not worrying me right now. We just got to go through the process… We feel having Simon now with the team, which is going to be a great teammate as well, working together to understand what we need. That probably going to put us on the next level.

“You know, Simon is an amazing talent. Very particular, understands what he likes, looks for small details. When we’re together, one complements the other. He might like some things that maybe not suitable [for me], however, there was things that work really well.

“I really like it. He understands the team process, working as a teammate. We’re hopefully carrying that over to MSR, which is not only going to help us, me and Simon, but help the team to elevate.”

Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing At Borgwarner Trophy Modeling

Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing at BorgWarner trophy modeling

Photo by: Logan Whitton for BorgWarner

Although he said being described as a four-time Indy 500 winner was “music to my ears” and having stated that he wouldn’t be in the series if he didn’t think a fifth win was possible, Castroneves said there were other events he would like to add to his tally of 32 race wins this year.

“No question, Belle Isle is one place, as that’s the last time we’re going to be racing there,” he said of the course which next year will replaced by a new layout in downtown Detroit. “That’s where everything started, taking my first-ever win in IndyCar. That would be a special place for sure to come back.

“St. Pete is always a place I enjoy coming because of the history that we have there (three-time winner). It’s always been great. It’s the beginning of the season… everybody’s excited. Not only myself but the team. We’re pumped.”

Castroneves pointed out that the Texas Motor Speedway race, an event he has won four times, will feel “different” this year as he is pulling double-duty that weekend, accompanying Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist in MSR’s Acura at the 12 Hours of Sebring. But he added Mid-Ohio to his list of venues where he’d like to score a win, as he triumphed there in Indy cars in 2000 and ’01, and in IMSA Prototypes in 2018 and ’20.

“Mid-Ohio is becoming part of my home now with Meyer Shank Racing being from Ohio,” he said. “That would be cool to carry the flag. For the many years that I won there, it would be great to go back and do it again.”

Asked if he anticipated a full-time return to IMSA, in which he scored the Prototype championship in 2020, a smiling Castroneves responded: “Whew! Let’s go with 2022 first and then we will see how the process goes… But it would be great because of LMDh – it would be awesome to be part of it, would be also awesome to learn something different with those different engines.

“I would love to… My desire is to do that, but unfortunately it’s not my decision.”

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