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Pagenaud Made Most of Solo Effort on Final Day of Open Testing

Simon Pagenaud during the Open Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Simon Pagenaud during the Open Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Simon Pagenaud, the 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner, was forced to fly solo as the lone driver for Meyer Shank Racing on the final day of open testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Image courtesy of Travis Hinkle / Penske Entertainment

Simon Pagenaud was the main man for Meyer Shank Racing on the final day of open testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

On Wednesday, the No. 06 MSR Honda of Helio Castroneves was one of a few drivers that ran into surprising trouble with the tumultuous surface on the warm-up lane following pit exit. The outcome was a spin that ended with a crash into the outside Turn 2 wall. Meyer Shank revealed later that evening that Castroneves would not participate in the next day of testing.

Leaving Pagenaud, the 2019 Indianapolis 500 champion, as the only one making laps for the organization on Thursday. He ended with 131 laps on track with a best speed of 227.575 mph, 11th on the charts.

 

“We definitely missed Helio (Thursday),” Pagenaud said. “He’s the king around this racetrack. We love to learn from each other on data, running in traffic together. It would have been great. Very unfortunate what happened to him (Wednesday).

“It is a real shame when we’re bringing the speedway cars. But the guys are already back in the shop. They already built the whole car. Quite impressive to see the effort that goes into it, how responsive these guys are, so congratulations to them.

Castroneves became the fourth driver to capture a record-tying fourth Indy 500 victory  in 2021, which also marked a first NTT IndyCar Series win for MSR. The hope for Castroneves and Co. is the lack of track time won’t be to much of detriment to the Ohio-based squad.

“When he’s around, it helps within the team just mostly because of his experience and because of what he thinks he needs for this track,” said Pagenaud, driver of the No. 60 MSR Honda. “You always have such a great sense of confidence listening to his feedback. Definitely missed him on the race team today.

“But we did a lot of work that he can pick up from. I’m sure that will help for his quest for the drive for five (Indianapolis 500s).”

This year marks Pagenaud’s first year with MSR, coming over after spending the last seven seasons at Team Penske. Both he and Castroneves, who spent roughly two decades at Penske (2000-20), captured victory for MSR in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, IMSA’s crown jewel event, in January. Since the start of the IndyCar season, the focus has been about finding growth and positivity.

“It’s going well,” said Pagenaud, the 2016 IndyCar champion. “(Wednesday) and (Thursday) was definitely a learning curve, a lot of new stuff that was thrown at me, a lot of things to adapt to. Overall I think we have a decent baseline. It takes time here, then you got to be really patient, keep the emotion in checks.

“Overall, it’s going really well. I really enjoy working with everybody, the atmosphere is amazing. You can feel the potential. The potential is amazing. We just have to be patient about when we’re going to start unlocking results.”

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