Paddock Buzz: Indianapolis 500 Media Day Edition – INDYCAR

May 27, 2022 by No Comments

Helio Castroneves, the reigning champion of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, delivered a strong message to his fellow Meyer Shank Racing members during a dinner Wednesday night.

“We’re still the defending champions,” the Brazilian said Thursday at “500” Media Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We’ve got to execute like that.”

Castroneves will drive the same No. 06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Radio Honda in which he won last year’s race, but there are many differences, beginning with where he and the machine will start this year. The position will be from 27th rather than eighth, which requires a different pursuit.

Castroneves spent most of last year’s race running in the top five of the 33-car field, a luxury that allowed his car to have better aerodynamic conditions than he will encounter in the second half of the pack. That changes things, he said, and he must be more in tune with the competitors ahead of him to gain spots as they slip up.

The other year-over-year difference is where Castroneves is pitting. For the first time in his 22 years at IMS, his box will be at the entrance to pit road – the second stall from the entry, to be accurate. He knows that could be an issue as he will slow down and turn sooner than most.

“(Trailing drivers) aren’t used to me pitting there, so we have to be careful,” he said.

Not All Onboard Videos Alike

Several drives admitted having studied Castroneves’ onboard footage from last year to see how he manipulated traffic, particularly in the closing laps when he outdueled Alex Palou (No. 10 NTT DATA Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing). Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda of Andretti Autosport) was not one of them.

Rossi said it can be difficult to know what a driver is thinking about a move, hence the misleading information that can be derived from watching someone else’s drive. Also, there are surprises, such as in the closing laps of the 2019 race when race leader Simon Pagenaud snaked his way down the straightaway as the train of challengers mirrored.

“I didn’t know what to do with that,” Rossi said. “He got that from watching cycling.”

Pagenaud, a Frenchman who is a big Tour de France follower, held on for his first “500” victory.

Much Talk About Shenanigans

Media Day also featured its share of conversation about the shenanigans happening in the driver motorhome lot at IMS. Already, an assortment of creative pranks have been played.

Romain Grosjean (No. 28 DHL Honda of Andretti Autosport) was surprised by a phone call from IMS Security saying his scooter was on the roof of the Pagoda.

“Yeah, that’s mine,” he told the caller. “I guess she had a good view (of the track).”

Rookie David Malukas (No. 18 HMD Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD) said he heard “a ruckus” outside of his motorhome the night Alexander Rossi’s golf cart got placed on top of four garbage cans, but he stayed quiet and remains vigilant in case he is the next to be pranked.

“I keep my stuff locked up, triple checked,” he said.

Conor Daly (No. 20 BitNile Chevrolet of Ed Carpenter Racing), who had his portable pool pranked last week with water-absorbing balls, said there is more the public doesn’t hear about (until now). Including: Josef Newgarden forgetting to lock …….



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