Helio Castroneves will return to IndyCar for ‘unfinished business’ with six races in 2021
Helio Castroneves will join Meyer Shank Racing for six races in the NTT IndyCar Series next season
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner will race a Dallara-Honda with the team at Barber Motorsports Park, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the 105th Indianapolis 500, the Harvest Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (Aug. 14), the Grand Prix of Portland and the Sept. 19 season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Castroneves ran full time in IndyCar and CART from 1998-20017 before Team Penske moved him to the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team is ending its Acura DPi program after Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring season finale (which Castroneves will enter with the championship points lead).
Castroneves actively has been seeking an IndyCar ride since the sports car team’s impending shutdown was announced in July. Though he has continued to race with Penske in the Indianapolis 500 (making his 20th start in the race this year), he also raced as a substitute for Arrow McLaren SP last month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
“I have to thank obviously Team Penske to put me in the sports car program because I feel that it was a great experience, and I feel much better as a driver today than actually I was three years ago,” Castroneves, 45, said Tuesday during a news conference announcing his Meyer Shank Racing deal. “But even though I was in the sports car program, IndyCar has always been part of my life. I enjoy it very much. I love the sport. I grew up in open wheel.
“Basically as soon as the Acura program was terminated, I said, ‘Let’s go back because I feel that I have unfinished business in the IndyCar world.’ And here we go.”
Team co-owner Mike Shank said he was attracted by Castroneves’ passion that “is as strong as any 20-year-old out there right now. I think the knowledge he has is times four of anybody out there. And we have metrics that we look at from all the drivers, and when we look at Helio’s (IndyCar) numbers from 2016 and 2017, he’s in the top four of all categories when the switch happened over at Team Penske.
“We saw a guy that was still driving at a level that can compete with anybody.”
Castroneves, who has 30 IndyCar victories and four runner-up finishes in the points, will be teamed with full-time driver Jack Harvey, who will return for a second season at Meyer Shank Racing. The team also is adding an Acura DPi car and is building a 45,000-square-foot shop near Columbus, Ohio, to accommodate the expansion.
“This is the new chapter of my life, as you mentioned, and I’m looking forward to building new relationships and having great results, too,” said Castroneves, who raced a prototype for MSR in the 2007 Rolex 24 at Daytona. “Looking forward to it. I can’t stop smiling because obviously I’m extremely excited. It’s been an amazing couple of months, no question, but we have a lot of work to do, but I’m ready for that challenge.”