Note: This is part of a series of NTT INDYCAR SERIES team previews for the 2023 season.
Starting Lineup: Helio Castroneves (No. 06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda), Simon Pagenaud (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda).
2022 in Review: The season was the team’s first as a full-time, two-car operation, and it was a building year. Pagenaud and Castroneves finished 15th and 18th in series points, respectively. Both drivers had season highlights at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with Pagenaud driving from 20th to finish second in the GMR Grand Prix while Castroneves was the big gainer in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, advancing from 27th to finish seventh. The two drivers combined to deliver nine top-10 finishes during the season. Pagenaud’s other strong event was the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, where he qualified third and finished ninth, one of his seven top-10 finishes.
New for ’23: Having both drivers back for a second year, a first for the organization, should be beneficial. This is also Year 2 for the team’s headquarters, and more of the crew members are now full-timers. Dave Seyffert has helped engineer Castroneves’ car in the past, but he became his lead engineer during the offseason.
Keep an Eye on This: Pagenaud is bringing a significant amount of confidence into this season, inspired by his impressive drive and Meyer Shank Racing’s overall victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. He called it “big” and “massive,” and he said it validated the offseason training, mental and physical, that he has done. “Mentally speaking, I’m working on the right things, that my influence within the team is going in the right direction,” he said. “Helio and myself are closer than ever, helping the team in many ways. It’s good because it’s showing Mike (Shank) and Jim (Meyer) that our input is also helping (to put) us on the map. Everything is going according to plan, even better. Yeah, I’m full of confidence, full of happiness because the work I’ve done is paying off.” Castroneves won the Rolex 24 overall for a record third consecutive year, the past two with MSR.
Little-Known Fact: No surprise here, but Castroneves is assembling one of the finest resumes in the “500” in history. But how about this stat: The four-time winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” has delivered 16 career top-10 finishes, one behind the record owned by A.J. Foyt. Super Tex needed 35 starts to achieve that number; Castroneves has competed in 22. Among the other four-time winners, Al Unser finished in the top 10 on 15 occasions, Rick Mears nine. Castroneves could easily have more as he finished 11th in 2016 and 2020. That’s 18 top-11 finishes in 22 starts.