Meyer Shank Racing has done it again.
Nearly eight months ago, the small team based in Ohio won their first race in the NTT IndyCar Series. It wasn’t just any race, either. The team won the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 with driver Helio Castroneves, vaulting him into the four-time winners club. It was a whirlwind day back in May, but today was Deja vu after 24 hours of racing at Daytona.
Castroneves drove the Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05 across the finish line for the overall victory in the 60th Rolex 24. The Brazilian was part of the four-driver lineup that included full-time IMSA drivers Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis, and his IndyCar teammate at MSR, Simon Pagenaud.
The twice-around-the-clock endurance race came down to a final 30-minute shootout that saw the Acuras restart first and second after both the Cadillacs from Action Express Racing and JDC-Miller Motorsports pitted for a second time while under yellow to top up on fuel. All four cars had exchanged the lead in the closing hours in a frantic race-long battle.
The battle between MSR and Ricky Taylor in the Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 DPi was quite a show for everyone watching. WTR was vying for their fourth consecutive Rolex 24 win but came up one spot short on Sunday. Taylor finished 3.028 seconds behind Castroneves, with Alexander Rossi as one of the drivers of the No. 10 Acura.
The LMP2 class victory went to the DragonSpeed team, led by IndyCar stars Colton Herta, Patricio O’Ward, and Devlin DeFrancesco. It was intense there, as well as the GTD Pro category, which was won by Pfaff Motorsports. Wright Motorsports won the GTD class with the No. 16 Porsche 911 machine.
Over the last 14 months, Castroneves has won an IMSA title, his fourth Indy 500, and two Rolex 24 races. “It was absolutely amazing,” said the 46-year old. “I can’t thank enough AutoNation and Sirius XM, Meyer Shank Racing and Acura, because these guys gave me a… ‘Keep pushing, keep pushing!’ great car, great teammates with Simon, Tom, Oliver, my brothers!”
“At the end, Ricky. Oh man, I was joking with him, ‘Ricky, I taught you a lot of things over three years with Acura but I didn’t teach you all of it: I’ve got to keep something up my sleeve!’ But, incredible job from everyone, I never thought I’d be climbing the fence at Daytona and today I realized that dream man. That was absolutely incredible.”
“I’m so happy for the entire group, because everyone did their part and in the end, I was saying, ‘Put me in, coach! Put me in, coach!’ It was great. When you have passion, and you love what you do, you’ve just got to keep doing it. There is no reason for you to keep listening to noises.”
“So as long as I keep it going, I have no issues. I’m motivated, I’m excited, I want to achieve my dream, and keep it going. And today, another one on the bucket list.” It was an emotion win for everyone, especially the MSR team on the 10th anniversary of their previous win at Daytona with Justin Wilson, AJ Allmendinger, Ozz Negri, and John Pew.
The next top on the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule takes place on March 19 with the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Rolex 24 Preview
The 2022 racing season is about to go full throttle.
The first of two marquee events on the motorsports calendar took place two weeks ago with the 36th annual Chili Bowl Nationals, won by Tanner Thorson. This weekend IMSA has the spotlight as they prepare for the 60th Rolex 24 to kick off their season. The action actually began last weekend with the traditional Roar Before The 24 on the road course of the Daytona International Speedway.
The official entry list for the iconic event shows 61 cars entered in the race. All of the familiar names are returning, and several IndyCar drivers will once again get their time behind the wheel. In fact, there are actually 12 full-time IndyCar drivers participating this weekend. Four Indianapolis 500 winners and four series champions will be present, with several IndyCar team owners fielding cars in the race as well.
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A 100-minute qualifying race around the 3.56-mile road course sets the starting field for the Rolex 24. The caution-free race was won by Wayne Taylor Racing, the defending champions of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Ricky Taylor drove the No. 60 Konica Minolta Racing Acura on pole, as the team tries to make history by winning the Rolex 24 for the fourth consecutive year.
Should the team find victory lane once again, it will break the record of three consecutive overall Rolex 24 victories set in 2008 by Chip Ganassi Racing. “I’m really excited,” said team principal Wayne Taylor. “We had a tough weekend and the race certainly wasn’t easy. Westbrook was pushing really hard there, but Ricky kept him off and won the race, and that’s all I care about.”
The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s five classes for the Rolex 24 feature seven DPi cars, ten LMP2 cars, nine LMP3 cars, 13 in the brand-new GTD Pro category, and 22 cars for the GTD class.
Most of the high-profile names reside in DPi where teams will be aiming for the overall victory.
Chip Ganassi will field two cars with IndyCar champions Scott Dixon and Alex Palou joining Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande in the No. 01 Cadillac. The No. 02 car will have Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen teaming up with Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn. Jimmie Johnson will be in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac.
Alexander Rossi returns to the No. 10 Acura with Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, and Will Stevens at Wayne Taylor Racing. Meyer Shank Racing teammates Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud will be in the No. 60 Acura with full-time drivers Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist.
The lone IndyCar star in LMP2 is Pato O’Ward, who will be driving the No. 81 ORECA with DragonSpeed. Notable names in the LMP3 category include Jarett Andretti, Rasmus Lindh, and Gabby Chaves, who will all drive the No. 36 Ligier machine with Andretti Autosport.
The loaded GTD Pro class features several talented drivers, including current IndyCar rookie Kyle Kirkwood and former IndyCar ace Jack Hawksworth, who will share the No. 14 Lexus for Vasser Sullivan. Other drivers participating in this class include Cooper MacNeil with WeatherTech Racing, Connor De Phillippi with BMW Team RLL, NASCAR Cup driver Austin Cindric in a Mercedes, and Felipe Nasr with Pfaff Motorsports. The Corvette Racing team will again be stacked with Jordan Taylor, Antonio Garcia, and Nicky Catsburg in the No. 3 and Tommy Milner, Nick Tandy, and Marco Sorensen in the No. 4 Chevrolet.
In GTD, Vasser Sullivan will have Townsend Bell and Richard Heistand with Aaron Telitz and Frankie Montecalvo in the No. 12 Lexus. Linus Lundqvist will be in a Mercedes with Alegra Motorsports. Finally, Team Hardpoint will have Stefan Wilson and Katherine Legge in their No. 99 Porsche. Three hours of coverage on Saturday begins at Noon ET on IMSATV and Peacock. The qualifying action on Sunday begins at 2 PM on both streaming services.
IMSA president John Doonan commented: “The racing world turns its eyes to the Rolex 24 every year since it typically kicks off the season for everyone in the industry and draws such an immense amount of international driver and team talent together. That’s even truer in 2022 with more cars on the grid than we’ve seen at Daytona in the last eight years.
“It shows that the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and sports car racing around the world continues to grow and thrive. We’re very excited for what should be a memorable 60th Rolex 24 at Daytona and the season ahead.”