Helio Castroneves added his name to another chapter in the global motorsports history books Sunday by driving for the winning Meyer Shank Racing Acura team in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Castroneves, one of four drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times, became the second driver in the 61-year history of this IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship blue-ribbon endurance event to earn overall victory honors for three consecutive Rolex 24's. Peter Gregg of the United States won overall in 1973, 1975 and 1976; the event didn’t take place in 1974 due to the national energy crisis.
SEE: Unofficial Results
“Can you believe that?” Castroneves said. “Big props to everyone. I’ve got a good luck charm with this team. This team is amazing; everyone did an amazing job. The entire people of this team, Meyer Shank Racing, the sports car side and the INDYCAR side, everyone worked so hard together. I can’t thank them enough.
“I can’t believe it. This is absolutely a dream come true.”
Brazilian Castroneves also won overall honors with MSR’s Acura team last year after capturing his first Rolex 24 overall title in 2021 with Wayne Taylor Racing.
Fellow Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud, also Castroneves’ teammate on MSR’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES team, was on the winning team this year and last year with MSR. Joining Brazilian Castroneves and Frenchman Pagenaud atop the overall podium and in winning the new GTP class today at Daytona International Speedway were teammates Tom Blomqvist of Sweden and Colin Braun of the United States.
All four MSR drivers, the crew and team management climbed the catch fence along the front straightaway after the victory, the “Spiderman” celebration that Castroneves has made so famous after each of his four Indy 500 victories at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The winning No. 60 Acura ARX-06 finished 4.190 seconds ahead of the No. 10 Acura ARX-06 fielded by Wayne Taylor Racing despite nursing gearbox problems for most of the second half of the race. The No. 01 Cadillac V-LMDh fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing finished third, 9.630 seconds behind the winners, with six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon as one of that car’s three drivers.
There was drama in the final hour of the 24-hour event on the 3.56-mile “roval” course that includes an infield road section and parts of the high-banked Daytona oval.
A series of cautions over the final two hours of the race bunched the field, with a final restart coming with 34 minutes, 30 seconds to go. Blomqvist powered away from Felipe Albuquerque in the No. 10 Acura and Renger van der Zande in the No. 01 Cadillac and drove to a comfortable victory. One of those late cautions let the No. 10 car complete its rally from two laps down earlier in the race due to a broken oil filler.
Pagenaud was behind the wheel of the No. 60 in the 21st hour – during a yeoman triple stint of driving – when that car took the lead on a restart, passing both Cadillacs. Still, four-time INDYCAR SERIES champion Sebastien Bourdais kept the pressure on Pagenaud in the No. 01 Cadillac.
“What a race,” Pagenaud said. “I am so proud to be a part of this amazing team, and I feel so lucky to be able to share my first two Rolex 24 victories with such special people. That final stint felt great and that all comes from the environment that I am in – the teammates that I have and what Mike (Shank) and Jim (Meyer) have put together.
“Overall, it was a lot of fun. I was really in the zone, especially in that last stint.”
The No. 01 Cadillac lost second place with about 90 minutes remaining in the race when Albuquerque’s No. 10 passed van der Zende.
Castroneves’ and Pagenaud’s overall glory salvaged a tough 24 hours of racing for the 10 full-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES and six full-time INDY NXT by Firestone drivers competing.
INDY NXT driver Nolan Siegel was the only other podium finisher besides Castroneves, Pagenaud and Dixon from the INDYCAR contingent across the five classes competing. Siegel was a member of the three-driver team that finished second in the LMP 3 class in the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport car, 12 laps behind the winning No. 17 AWA car.
While there was little drama in the fight for LMP 3 class victory, the LMP 2 class featured a finish that looked like the end of one of the restrictor-plate drafting battles of NASCAR’s Daytona 500. The No. 55 Proton Competition car edged the No. 04 Crowdstrike Racing by APR car by .016 of a second in a photo finish.
Team Penske NTT INDYCAR SERIES teammates Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin made their respective Rolex 24 debuts in LMP 2 but ended up fifth in class in the No. 8 Tower Motorsports prototype, two laps down.