Castroneves says “we did what we needed to do”, secures a P10 finish

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MSR’s driver Helio Castroneves finished 10th on a day of maximising his package at Texas Motor Speedway.

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | Chris Jones

After an early end on the streets of St. Petersburg, both Meyer Shank Racing cars could finish Sunday’s PPG 375, and the no. 06 of four-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves finished 10th. It’s their first Top-10 since the 2022 Music City GP in Nashville.

The last two seasons for the Andretti-partnered team were disappointing. After an astonishing Indy 500 in 2021, where Helio Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser, and Rick Mears as a 4-time winner, the team has not found the same success. Their best result since was a shock podium in Indianapolis at a rain-affected 2022 GMR GP.

This season started with a shocker, with both cars involved in the massive accident at the start of the Firestone GP. On Saturday, the team didn’t feel confident, as both cars qualified 21st and 22nd.“We don’t know why just yet we didn’t pick up the speed in the car,” said Pagenaud. “But we will look into it and to understand what was going on. It’s a shame because the team did a great job preparing the car, but we’ll work hard and be ready for tomorrow.”On Sunday, Castroneves used a shrewd pit strategy to move up positions. As the yellow flags were shown during the last half of the race, he used his experience to keep the car out of trouble and capitalise on the mistakes of his competitors. The Brazilian took the chequered flag in 10th place, his first Top-10 since Mid Ohio last season.

“Really great finish for the No. 06 AutoNation / SiriusXM car today,” he said. “With a little bit of patience and great teamwork – and I cannot emphasize that enough because they gave me a great strategy and that’s how we were able to move up. “We didn’t have the fastest car if I’m being honest, but we stayed out of trouble and we did what we needed to do. It’s a great start to the season for us, we did not have a race in St. Pete, so for us it’s a great start.”His teammate, 2019 Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud could run on the top half of the field until an early second stop on lap 100 made him fall down the order. He could only finish 17th, although the Frenchman gained five spots from where he started.

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | Chris Owens

“We started the race really well, but then what we found in qualifying continued into the race – the car was very slow. Fortunately the handling was ok and the entire team did a great job extracting the best out of the car.

“Now we need to work and figure out what is going on. It’s certainly a big set back and it’s not where we want to be. Helio did a great job with P10 so congrats to him and the 06 crew. We finished the race in one-piece this time, but overall we have to do better.”