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Castroneves “disappointed” to not chase fourth consecutive Daytona 24 win

Helio Castroneves was left discouraged after being left without a chance to defend his crown at the Daytona 24 Hours, the season opener to the IMSA SportsCar Championship.

#60 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb Agajanian Acura ARX-06: Helio Castroneves

#60 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb Agajanian Acura ARX-06: Helio Castroneves

Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

After making his Daytona debut in 2018, the Brazilian immersed himself – and quickly became a force – in sportscar racing. During a stretch of his career that served as a brief hiatus from IndyCar, he helped guide Team Penske’s Acura programme to the IMSA DPi championship in 2020.

A move to Wayne Taylor Racing in 2021 earned him the famed Rolex for winning the twice-around-the-clock classic, which happened just four months prior to earning his record-tying fourth victory in the Indianapolis 500 for Meyer Shank Racing.

Even with a full-time return to the IndyCar Series the previous two years, Castroneves continued to compete in select IMSA rounds, which included a further two victories at Daytona's 3.56-mile road course in 2022 and 2023.

Entering this year, he takes on a partial ownership role at Meyer Shank Racing – which is not competing in IMSA this year – while also reducing his full-time commitment to strictly a one-off as he hunts for a record fifth Indianapolis 500 win.

Meanwhile Tom Blomqvist, who Castroneves teamed with each the past two years in IMSA, is taking on a full-time rookie campaign in the IndyCar Series with MSR alongside a co-driver role in IMSA's endurance rounds with Action Express Racing.

The three-time defending winner at Daytona was dejected to not get an opportunity to chase a fourth victory that would tie him with Pedro Rodríguez, Bob Wollek, Peter Gregg and Rolf Stommelen.

The most successful drivers in event history are Hurley Haywood and Scott Pruett with five wins apiece.

“Disappointed, to be honest,” the 48-year-old said. “I definitely would have liked to defend the race win and tried to go four in a row.

#60 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb Agajanian Acura ARX-06: Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

#60 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb Agajanian Acura ARX-06: Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud

“But I'm glad that I have a lot on my plate, as well, at the same time with MSR, even though MSR is not in the sportscar programme. We're working hard to come back in the near future.

“But yeah, I wish everyone a great race and good luck for sure.”

MSR departed the IMSA championship after winning the final round of 2023 at Petit Le Mans with Castroneves as part of the driver roster, with its Acura ARX-06 switching to the recently renamed WTR-Andretti squad. 

MSR's 2023 Daytona triumph in the first race of IMSA's GTP era was marred when Acura car-builder Honda Performance Development uncovered that tyre pressure data had been manipulated.

Although it was allowed to keep the win, as the final results had already been published, MSR was docked 200 points in the drivers' championship and handed a $50k fine.

Of MSR's other 2023 Daytona winning drivers, Colin Braun has landed a drive in LMP2 with Crowdstrike Racing by APR, while Simon Pagenaud remains sidelined as he recovers from a concussion sustained at IndyCar's Mid-Ohio round last year. 

The Frenchman posted an update to his website on Monday revealing that his immediate future in racing remains undecided.

“I don’t know yet if I will be back behind a wheel in 2024 nor if I am ready for it,” he said.

“I want to take things slowly to make sure that when I come back, I am at my very best again.

“For now, I want to thank all of you who have sent messages of support, and of course a big thanks to my family, friends, and team who have been there for me 24/7.”

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