Helio Castroneves re-signs for 2023 season with Meyer Shank Racing in IndyCar

Helio Castroneves Meyer Shank
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
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MADISON, Illinois — There was no chance Meyer Shank Racing would risk four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves making history with another team.

Curtailing that possibility, the team announced a one-year contract extension Friday that will bring Castroneves back for a 26th full IndyCar season. Castroneves won his fourth Indy 500 in 2021 driving a part-time schedule for MSR as Castroneves was desperately fighting off a forced slide toward retirement.

Michael Shank believed in the popular Brazilian and last year’s Indy win led to a full season at MSR’s expanded two-car organization. Castroneves, 47, is insistent he’s got plenty of gas in his tank.

“I don’t want anyone else to win a fifth Indy 500,” Shank told The Associated Press. “He’s very emotional about this, he’s going down swinging. I think he’d like to do at least one more (full) year and then maybe try just Indy? And then do some other things, too. He wants to stay involved, he wants to use what he’s strong at, and we support him 100%.”

It’s hardly been the breakout season Shank had expected when Castroneves’ program was expanded into a full season and Simon Pagenaud became available at the same time Jack Harvey, the team’s first driver, left for Rahal Letterman Lanigan.

Castroneves is 18th in the standings, has led only one lap all year and finished seventh at Indy; Pagenaud is 12th in the standings and was eighth at Indy, and Shank believes will have a strong close to his first season with MSR.

They race Saturday night at World Wide Technology Raceway Gateway outside St. Louis, where Castroneves has an impressive record. In six career starts spanning both CART and IndyCar, Castroneves has one victory and has never finished lower than ninth. In three IndyCar races, his average finish is 2.3.

It has created hope for strong results from MSR on Saturday night at the final oval on this year’s IndyCar calendar. Castroneves has not raced Gateway since 2017.

He has admittedly struggled to adjust to the cockpit-protecting aeroscreen – which was added by IndyCar while Castroneves was competing full-time in sports cars following his nearly two decades with Team Penske – and his results this season have been inconsistent. Shank is planning personnel changes to Castroneves’ team.

“I didn’t expect how difficult it was. We are making some changes internally to make sure these last three races, we continue to improve,” Castroneves said. “This aeroscreen literally threw a curveball to find a sweet spot, taking longer than I expected for myself to adapt and to understand what the car needs. But we’re pushing. I feel like we could be better.

“But remember, it’s the first full-time season that I’m in. Certainly we’re preparing for bigger things in the future.”

Shank isn’t so much bothered by the results because of the value Castroneves brings to the team sponsors. The charismatic Brazilian is an entertainer – he won his season of “Dancing With the Stars” in 2007 – and is a hit at partner functions.

“Let’s just put the Indy 500 to the side for a minute, the relationship he’s had with our sponsors and our partners is like next-level (stuff) I’ve never seen before,” Shank told AP. “He is so good with people. Everyone wants him at their events, dinners, meet-and-greets, he’s just exceptional. And we have to deliver what our sponsors want.”

Castroneves has no idea how long he’d like to race, but he knows he has no plans to slow down. In addition to his extension with MSR, Castroneves is lobbying for a seat in the Daytona 500 with Trackhouse Racing and its Project91 program. Trackhouse wants to bring international drivers from other formulas to NASCAR and debuts Project91 this weekend with Formula One 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen.

Trackhouse team owner Justin Marks has said conversations with Castroneves are on pause until the team gets through its debut with Raikkonen. But Castroneves wants to be in the Daytona 500 and anything else he can fit into his schedule; he also participated in Tony Stewart’s all-star series for a second consecutive year this summer and his victory in the opener is what led to Daytona talks.

“You can’t put a number on it. I have the potential, the dedication, and I know I can do the results, and have the team and people behind,” Castroneves said about how long he plans to race. “The reason I’m still going for it is because I believe in all these aspects. I’m going to keep moving forward until I get the result.

“Obviously you get to a point that you’ve got to realize and as of right now, I don’t feel that in my gut. I feel I have a lot left in the tank. The number is just an age.”

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston: Eli Tomac retakes 450 lead, Hunter Lawrence tops 250s

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After his Anaheim 2 crash, Eli Tomac was surprised he was not injured, but despite getting knocked down momentarily, he picked himself up, rode to last week’s win and reascended to the top of the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. This is the third time in three weeks Tomac has topped the rankings.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jason Anderson has back-to-back podiums to his credit and sits second in the Power Rankings. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Last week, Tomac finished second in his heat before winning the Main – and that translated to near-perfect points in the Power Rankings, which award 100 for a win in the feature and 90 for a heat victory. Tomac’s average was marred by the Houston accident when he finished 13th in that heat before settling just outside the top five in overall standings. Racing is about bouncing back and last year’s Supercross and Motocross champion Tomac did just that as he chases a third consecutive title.

Jason Anderson earned his second consecutive podium finish with a third at Houston. He momentarily rolled past Aaron Plessinger into second during a restart following an accident involving Dylan Ferrandis and held that position for four trips around the track until he was tracked down by Chase Sexton. Afterward Anderson faded and finished 12 seconds off the pace, but along with a heat win, he easily leapfrogged Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, who struggled in the fourth race of the season.

MORE: Eli Tomac rebounds from Anaheim 2 crash with Houston win

Webb held his position by passing Roczen in NBC’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. Webb has been solid in 2023 with a worst moto result of seventh in the first Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2, but in order to be considered a solid challenger to Tomac he needs to win either a heat or main this week in Tampa.

Roczen was involved in the incident that sidelined Ferrandis in Houston. Racing for eighth at the time, his bike may have sustained some damage when Ferrandis landed on his back tire, but he was not overly impressive in his heat either with a fifth-place finish. That was enough to drop him three positions in the standings, but he still has Tomac in sight.

After his disappointing heat in San Diego when he crashed and sustained enough damage to place him last, Sexton has roared back. He won the overall in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown format and narrowed the points’ gap slightly on Tomac. Last week he yarded the field in his heat race and won by a wide margin. A modest start in the Main kept him from getting to Tomac’s back wheel early in the Houston round, and he lost a little ground in the championship.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Eli Tomac
[3 Main; 3 Heats Wins]
85.20 2 1
2 Jason Anderson
[2 Heat Wins]
82.60 4 2
3 Cooper Webb 82.10 3 0
4 Ken Roczen 81.70 1 -3
5 Chase Sexton
[1 Main; 3 Heat Wins]
80.70 6 1
6 Dylan Ferrandis 71.60 5 -1
7 Aaron Plessinger 71.30 8 1
8 Justin Barcia 70.10 7 -1
9 Justin Cooper 68.00 NA
10 Adam Cianciarulo 67.40 9 -1
11 Joey Savatgy 61.20 10 -1
12 Marvin Musquin 61.00 10 -2
13 Malcolm Stewart
[1 Heat Win]
58.75 11 -2
14 Christian Craig 57.20 13 -1
15 Colt Nichols 56.50 14 -1
16 Dean Wilson 49.30 15 -1
17 Justin Hill 39.67 18 1
18 Shane McElrath 36.33 22 4
19 Brandon Scharer 34.00 21 2
20 Logan Karnow 33.33 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points


The 250 East division debuted in Houston and with only one race – and therefore no chance yet to stumble – three of their riders jumped to the top of the chart.

Hunter Lawrence had a perfect week with wins in both his main and heat. It wasn’t without drama, however, as he was forced to jump wide early in the feature to avoid contact with Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut. Without a former 250 champion in the field, it is guaranteed someone new will grace the top of the box at Salt Lake City after the season-ender and it looks like it’s going to be Lawrence’s to lose.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jordon Smith’s last podium before Houston came four years ago in Detroit. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

It was more than four years ago that Jordon Smith scored his last Supercross podium in Detroit. Despite finishing second that afternoon, he was battling a wrist injury that eventually sidelined him. More injuries have followed, but Smith was a favorite to win the title in 2019 and he’s shown how well he can ride when he’s healthy.

Debuting third in the Houston SuperMotocross Power Rankings, Max Anstie moved from the 450 class last year to 250s in 2023 and the change has gone better than he anticipated. Finishing second in both his heat and main, Anstie was edged by Smith because he finished second behind that rider in their heat. That is Anstie’s first top-10 since finishing sixth at Southwick, Massachusetts last year on his 450. In that race, he scored fifth-place results in both motos.

Supercross 250 Points

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his graduation into the 250 class was well deserved and he landed fourth in his division and fifth overall in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings. In his first professional Supercross race, he finished fourth in his heat. In a field with twice the talent, he finished fourth again in the main. At Houston, he balanced aggression with patience. Now that he has a taste of that success, everyone will be watching him closely at Tampa to see if he can continue tiptoeing on the line.

Michael Mosiman, Jeremy Martin, and Vialle are tied for fifth in the 250 East division and seventh overall.

Vialle is the most notable of these three because he challenged for a podium position during the Main before making a mistake and falling in a turn. Significantly, this was not only his 250 debut, but his first time in Supercross. As with Deegan, he has generated a lot of attention for the coming weeks.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Hunter Lawrence – E
[1 Main; 1 Heat Win]
95.00 NA
2 Jordon Smith – E
[1 Heat Win]
90.50 NA
2 Max Anstie – E 90.50 NA
4 Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat Wins]
89.13 1 -3
5 Haiden Deegan – E 81.50 NA
6 Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
77.63 2 -4
7 Mitchell Oldenburg – W 77.00 3 -4
7 Michael Mosiman – E 77.00 NA
7 Jeremy Martin – E 77.00 NA
7 Tom Vialle – E 77.00 NA
11 Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat Win]
76.75 4 -7
12 Chance Hymas – E 74.50 -12
13 Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main Win]
73.75 5 -8
14 RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat Wins]
70.00 6 -8
15 Max Vohland – W 69.29 7 -8
16 Cullin Park – E 66.00 NA
17 Chris Blose – E 65.50 NA
18 Derek Kelley – W 63.75 8 -10
19 Enzo Lopes – W 63.25 9 -10
20 Pierce Brown – W 61.29 10 -10

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage