MADISON, Ill — Helio Castroneves hinted on a zoom call earlier this week that he was close to signing a new contract to remain with Meyer Shank Racing for the 2023 NTT INDYCAR Series season. Now, that announcement has been made.
MSR announced between practice and qualifying for Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 (6 p.m. ET, USA, INDYCAR Radio Network) that Castroneves will return to the No. 06 Dallara-Honda next year.
“Keeping Helio onboard wasn’t really a question for us,” said team owner Michael Shank. “We’ve built a really strong relationship with him over these last two race seasons. He brings so much to the table, on and off the track. He’s been able to help us grow as a team and we’ve been able to learn from his years of experience. It’s truly a mutually beneficial relationship. And of course he’s a perfect face of the sport and has such an infectious personality, so to have him on our team is an honor.”
Castroneves first joined MSR for a six race campaign in the 2021 INDYCAR season. The first race of the season for MSR and Castroneves as a team – the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 – exceeded all expectations as Castroneves raced to a record-tying fourth Indianapolis 500 victory – exactly 12 years after his previous 500 win in 2009.
The win was also the first-ever IndyCar series victory for MSR with the Ohio-based team having made its series debut in 2017.
The 2021 Indianapolis 500 was MSR’s 38th NTT INDYCAR SERIES entry after the team ran a six race program in 2018 and ten races in 2020. The team went on to compete full-time in 2020 and expanded in 2021 to one full-time entry and the partial season campaign with Castroneves.
To date, Castroneves has 31 victories and 50 IndyCar pole positions on his resume – putting him in IndyCar’s top ten in history for most victories and pole positions. The 2023 IndyCar season will see Castroneves once again attempt to be the first driver in IndyCar history to claim a fifth Indianapolis 500 victory.
“I’m so excited that myself and Meyer Shank Racing have renewed for 2023. I’m super optimistic for an amazing season because of everything that we have built this season – all the positive data and positive energy. I can’t thank Mike and Jim enough and of course all of our partners. There is no question that we are all super excited to continue this amazing partnership. Simon (Pagenaud) and I are going to do everything we can to finish this season strong, and then have a good start to 2023 and some even better results.”
He told me on Wednesday that this season has been frustrating for him in a sense that they’ve not had the finishing that he’s hoped for. However, getting this deal done allows him to focus on ending 2022 on a higher note and building for his 26th full time season next year.