By: Spencer Neff
November 10, 2020
On Tuesday morning, the IndyCar grid saw a new part-time entry confirmed for the 2021 season.
Meyer Shank Racing confirmed it will run a second car for six races with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves behind the wheel of the No. 06 Dallara-Honda.
“We’re really excited to have Helio come onboard with us next year,” said Team Co-Owner Mike Shank.
“The idea to start off with six races for the second IndyCar was another strategic plan. As I’ve always said in the past, we will never bite off more than we can chew. It’s always been one of our goals to expand the IndyCar program, and this is the best way that we can start that. Of course the goal is to have two full-season cars.”
For his part-time role, Castroneves will begin in the second race of the 2021 season at Barber Motorsports Park on April 11, he will also run the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 18), the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge (May 30) as well as the August 14 race scheduled on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.
To conclude his first season with MSR, Castroneves will run the final races of the season at Portland International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on September 12 and 19.
“I’m super excited to be joining Meyer Shank Racing for six IndyCar races next year,” said Castroneves.
“Mike (Shank) and I know each other from a long time ago and I raced with the team at Daytona. Now, with (Co-Owner) Jim (Meyer), Mike and Jack (Harvey), all three of us I feel like we have great potential. I can’t thank enough Team Penske for all of these years with them, but now it’s a new chapter in my life and I’m excited to join MSR and an incredible group of friends.”
Since making his IndyCar debut in 1998, Castroneves has won 30 races and 54 pole positions in 350 starts. In three starts throughout 2020, Castroneves earned a best finish of 11th at the 104th Indianapolis 500 after starting 28th.
During the October 2 and 3 Harvest Grand Prix, he subbed for Oliver Askew at Arrow McLaren SP, his first IndyCar start for a team other than Penske since 1999.
In his last full-time season, the popular driver won at Iowa and ended the year third in points during the 2017 campaign. In 20 full-time seasons, Castroneves has finished as the championship runner-up on four occasions (2002,2008, 2013 and 2014).
While driving one of Team Penske’s Acura Daytona Prototypes as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Castroneves and co-driver Ricky Taylor earned the season championship for 2020 in Penske’s last season of competing in the series.
“Having a guy like Helio on the team will be a big asset for us,” said Shank.
“He’s a proven race winner and brings a ton of knowledge to the team. He’s someone that we will be able to learn from. This past season was definitely a tough one for us, but Jack (Harvey) proved that he has the pace to be running up front, and going into 2021 we certainly aiming to get back up on the podium.”
Since debuting with Jack Harvey at the 2017 Indianapolis 500 in a partnership with Andretti Autosport (as Michael Shank Racing), MSR has continued to make strides with their IndyCar program.
During their first full-time season in 2020, Harvey earned his first two front-row starts (Indianapolis Grand Prix and Road America 1).
At the Indianapolis 500, he started 20th and finished ninth, both career-bests for him in the event. During the second race of the Harvest Grand Prix, the two-time Indy Lights runner-up finished sixth, his best result of 2020. In 33 career IndyCar starts, Harvey’s best finish was third at the 2019 IndyCar Grand Prix.
“I’m really excited to build on the progress that we made this year and bring that into 2021,” said Harvey.
“We’ve had so much potential, but had such bad luck in so many of the races this year that I’m just excited to start fresh. I’m confident that next year we can push for some podiums and race wins based off of the pace that we had this year. Having Helio, he will be a fantastic addition to the team. He’s a three-time Indy 500 winner and he’s a living legend really, so it’s pretty great that I will get to work with him and be teammates with someone who has that level of experience. I see this as a way to strengthen the team. I’m excited to get going again and 2021 cannot come soon enough.”
Header Image By Chris Jones/INDYCAR