Meyer Shank Racing’s run through the last four races have left the Ohio-based IndyCar team in search of relief. A glimpse of hope was found with Simon Pagenaud’s drive to seventh place at Toronto, but from there, a punishing sequence where a pair of 23rds at the Iowa doubleheader and an out-of-fuel finish of 25th last weekend has dropped the Frenchman to 13th in the championship.
Teammate Helio Castroneves has been on the same struggle bus of late with finishes of 17th, 16th, 21st and 19th, which have the Brazilian holding a distant 18th in the drivers’ standings. The team has four races left to turn its program around try to improve upon its best championship finish to date, which came in 2021 when former driver Jack Harvey placed 13th in the No. 60 Honda.
“Man, it’s been a rough spot right in the middle of the season where it’s been some mistakes we’ve made or it’s just been bad luck,” MSR co-owner Michael Shank told RACER. “It’s been various different things we’re just trying to get out of this barrage. Last Saturday we had the perfect strategy with Simon and it was all going exactly the way we wanted, and then it’s just detail stuff that hurt us. We’ve just got to tighten up. And I don’t mean to emotionally tighten up. I mean we need to tighten up our processes and everything we do.”
Shank isn’t fond of making excuses and says the spate of poor results with both cars for most of July cannot be blamed on external factors.
“To be honest with you, I don’t put it down to having a bunch of races in a row because I felt like we prepared for it for a long time,” he added. “It’s just a series of missteps that hurt and lots of teams go through it. It’s just how do we respond to it and get out of it? And you can imagine that we’re working on it every single day. It’s embarrassing. I look at the ebb and flow of teams, and they do well one weekend and miss it the next, and that’s not where we want to be.
“In our series, it’s so difficult from a setup standpoint to consistently be fast all the time. So we need to tighten up our processes, make sure we’ve done everything we can and make some better decisions. We’ve also had some penalties with Helio that we just we gotta clean up as well. Across the board, we’re going into Nashville needing to turn the page.”
MSR’s expansion to two full-time cars has been its major undertaking in 2022; growing pains are an inevitable part of the process. For Shank, it’s another non-starter as a reason behind the recent downturn in results.
“I can’t use that as an excuse,” he said. “We know we’re better than the last couple of weeks. We’re reviewing everything. We’re doing everything you would think we would do to try to get us in a better position here. Some of it is luck, by the way, but I don’t want to put a ton on that because we create our own. We’re in the thick of a fight for an IMSA championship with the Acura program this weekend and we’re racing also in Nashville, and on both fronts, we need to get through the races with no dramas.
“Being on the back foot on the IndyCar side has been no fun, I can promise you that. We’ve just got to look at ourselves and make better choices and have a better understanding in all the decisions we make, because when we do, we’re a hell of a good team. All of us know we can be right up there going for wins if we get our ducks in a row.”