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Castroneves, Pagenaud try to rediscover mojo at Indy 500

Indianapolis — Crashed on the first lap of the IndyCar season opener, then again six weeks later on the opening lap at Long Beach.

Helio Castroneves got off to a dismal start to the season, including last week’s race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, where an engine problem during practice left him off the track. The entire session of

Now it’s time to get ready for the Indianapolis 500. Castroneves, one of only four of his four-time winners, wants “the biggest spectacle of racing” where he and Meyer his shank racing can turn the season around. Castroneves and team-mate Simon Pagenaud are 21st and 23rd in the standings, the second-lowest standings for a full-time IndyCar team behind AJ Foyt Racing.

“I’m not panicking, but I don’t want to run poorly. Absolutely not,” team owner Michael Shank told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “This is not something I take lightly. I want to hit my head over the wall. That’s what I really want to do.”

“But we need to show strength within our organization so that we can overcome some of these obstacles.

Castroneves has taken a similar attitude, comparing it to what seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton is going through as he tries to help Mercedes remake its current car into a competitive one. ing.

“Sometimes there are moments when I wonder if everyone goes through a bad situation, not just me,” Castroneves said. “But even with that, I don’t put myself in categories like, ‘Oh, why me?'” No, I just have to move on and keep working hard, and Sometimes we have to look to other areas and that’s what we do now. “

The problem is that MSR has trouble diagnosing why its cars aren’t competitive. Castroneves’ 10th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway was both drivers’ only top 10 finish of the season. Former Team Penske teammates Castroneves and Pagenaud together won five Indy 500s and one IndyCar championship.

“It wasn’t a good start to the season,” said Pagenaud. “I’m trying as hard as I can, and so are my teammates. It’s really hard, to be honest. We didn’t get lucky. We had some conflicts. We made mistakes.

“We can only hope that we will regroup and things will turn around at some point.”

That would be great in 2021 at Indianapolis, where Castroneves won his fourth Indy 500 and Shank won his first IndyCar career. Castroneves’ victory saw Schank expand to two full-time cars for 2022, with one seat being given to the Brazilian. Shank approached Pagenaud as Jack Harvey decided to leave the team, but Pagenaud turned down Penske’s offer to move to sports car racing, choosing to remain in the IndyCar Series. .

Shank liked the longstanding working relationship and friendship between Castroneves and Pagenaud, and it looks like it paid off for Pagenaud after he hasn’t lived up to expectations this season. The two cars helped Shank win the IMSA season opener in a Rolex 24 at Daytona (later costing him a hefty tire pressure penalty), but the IndyCar program suffered greatly.

“We are ready to make a major reshuffle of our organization, including our drivers, this year or next year to get the results we need,” Shank said.

However, there are no immediate plans for the race on May 28th.

“Right now we are totally focused on getting something this week and next week, which is really important to us and how we can maximize it,” Shank said. “There are two really good boys here. We will do everything in our power to turn this situation around in the coming weeks.”

Castroneves is by nature cheerful and enthusiastic, even in the darkest of times.

“Life is a challenge. It’s full of trials,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t think this is a test. I may be old, but in fact it motivates me to keep going and to find answers.”

Castroneves, who turned 48 earlier this month, won two Rolex 24s at Daytona and won the Indy 500 with Shank, but doesn’t want to switch from being a full-time rider after the season. This comes amid mounting pressure on Shank to give reigning IMSA champion Tom Blomqvist a spot in IndyCar, but Castroneves has yet to heed the speculation.

“I don’t want anyone running where I’m running,” Castroneves said. “But I don’t want to say something all of a sudden. It’s easy to say, like, stop. That’s not me. So no, I want to do a full IndyCar season.”

Castroneves’ attitude and approach came in handy when Pagenaud, one of the drivers who joined Castroneves in a crash on the opening lap of the season, dealt with a disappointing start.

“He’s having fun days, so that presence alone can find a good level, even if it’s been a tough few days,” said Pagenaud. “I’m more of an honing type of person and some days it’s hard to be honed and better as a team. It can be hard on people sometimes. Harsh. Helio isn’t grumpy. I don’t know how he does it.”

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