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January 29, 2023

Tom Blomqvist

Colin Braun

Helio Castroneves

Tom Meyer

Simon Pagenaud

Michael Shank

Daytona Beach, Florida

Press Conference

An Interview with:

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we'll keep our post-race interviews rolling here. We have one of the co-owners of Meyer Shank Racing, the No. 60 Acura ARX 06, Mike Shank, his partner Jim Meyer will be along here momentarily, as well.

Team's third Rolex 24 at Daytona overall victory. Of course last year they won, as well, so back-to-back for them. The first one was back in 2012.

16th IMSA victory, first team to win in the modern IMSA GTP era, and this is the third consecutive Rolex 24 win for Acura, which I think I mentioned previously.

Mike, can you put it into words?

MICHAEL SHANK: I sat here, was it yesterday? I don't even remember now. I did that thing. The amount of -- David Salters I just saw was in here and his crew and the group of people that put this together, the odds of this happening I gave probably 5 or 10 percent.

It was just -- this thing, this has been such a huge job, and there's 200 people from every department that made this happen, and to have it come together, then have it come together, win the race and finish one-two with Wayne Taylor and Andretti and us, no, it's just amazing. I just don't really know what's going on.

I'm dead tired. I was so stressed. Our car had a gearbox problem all night. I mean, all night, and we could not fix it. We decided just to run it until it blew up. It didn't blow up.

We got super lucky.

We're grateful, especially for Acura. Jon Ikeda is here from Acura, and he's the one that really had a vision for performance at Acura really five or six years ago when I met him. These people believe in this program, and I needed to deliver.

So does Wayne. Wayne and I worked well together. We texted each other on that last restart, because God knows what was going to happen, but it was very respectful restart.

We'll reciprocate how we raced each other later with them for sure.

Q. As you noted, David Salters was just in here and I asked him what you meant to him and how you've got this complex about being underappreciated. He listed all your accomplishments, and he said, what else can the guy do in North American racing --

MICHAEL SHANK: He signed my contract. No, it's been great.

Q. He said, he does now. Are you finally accepting that you're a good team?

MICHAEL SHANK: Am I accepting of that? He lets me know every day that I need to do more, for less money. (Laughing).

Yes, listen, I get it, but like I told you the other day, the way I look at this thing is we win these, we're going to celebrate. We're going to have a big party in a couple weeks at my lake house in Columbus with all these guys properly, and then we go to Sebring and then we go to Palm Springs next week and then we go to the next thing.

I told you, I'm messed up, so that's how I think of things. It's great to have the accolades, and he'll tell you ever since he came in in '18 it's been like this.

JIM MEYER: It's been like that.

MICHAEL SHANK: It's great. It's really great.

THE MODERATOR: We also have Jim Meyer here.

Q. Early on in the race Colin, when he got out in the car, was very aggressive. That one move a couple hours in right up against the wall, from a team owner's perspective, how were you guys on the pit box? Were you sweating a little bit?

MICHAEL SHANK: Yeah, I clicked the radio button and said, stop.

Listen, Colin -- I didn't really do that, but we reiterated our position on this. We knew we had issues going on but we had a really fast car, but so did Wayne in the 10 car. We wanted to make sure we had something for the last hour you saw here, which was really difficult for our car because we had little things. If you watch the race we were in the pit lane probably more than anybody.

But we did it, I think, a smart way. We understood the strategy. We knew when we could get away with taking the car apart and fixing something and go back out there and not really hurt the effort overall.

When drivers get aggressive like that I'm tormented by it because we hire these guys to do that and we want them to be aggressive, and Colin has got an opportunity with a factory team now, and he needs to take advantage of it. That's the start of it right there.

Q. Mike, you said you were worried about the gearbox. When did that begin --


Q. How serious did it get?

MICHAEL SHANK: It was real serious. Someone taped -- the guy that really monitors that sits next to me and someone brought him a piece of racers tape that said 90 C on it, so we stopped -- we just knew it was 90 C. If it goes, it goes.

It just didn't. We kept maintaining the gearbox and fluid levels and trying to fix it literally the whole race.

Q. Then you had the oil flush in addition to deal with --

MICHAEL SHANK: Well, that's a different thing, and I noticed a lot of the manufacturers are doing that now, yeah, where we draw it out -- we essentially change the motor oil during the race. That wasn't that bad. We can deal with that all day. We have time to do that. I think that's a preventative thing with the new fuel we have and the new motors that we have.

I think that was just to make sure -- it looks like a little jet pack, and we built that at home, and one is vacuum and one gives back out pressure I assume.

Q. Was this race more nerve-racking than last year?

MICHAEL SHANK: What do you think, Jim, was it?

JIM MEYER: The gearbox didn't help. But boy, our guys have been so good from the first day they got down here last week. Every one of our guys was good. Our team was so focused. I actually think it was less nerve-racking than last year, but last year was my first year, so I was really surprised.

But I made this commitment to myself that I was going to -- like in racing, I was going to try to learn better to manage the highs and the lows, and I'm not doing that so good. I'm really high today. This is really, really such a great accomplishment for our team and for our guys and for Honda and for everyone.

It's just great. Oreca. Oreca, there was a lot of discussion about would the car be ready and all that. The car ran 24 hours. It's ready.

MICHAEL SHANK: Yeah, and fast.

Q. I have a couple questions for you about your drivers. The first, Simon Pagenaud. I believe he told us on NBC that he drove the stint of his life.

MICHAEL SHANK: Yeah. He did.

Q. Can you describe that, and also about the confidence he seems to have right now? It reminds us a little bit of where he was in 2019 when he won Indy.

MICHAEL SHANK: Yeah, that's where his head's at, and I said those words to him. I think that is the best thing I've ever seen you do, certainly with us, on either side of the aisle. He drove -- once we got new tires on, he did a triple stint there right there at the end, and if you look at his average numbers, I think he's third overall quickest drivers from the race.

He just put in qualifiers for I don't know how many laps in a row, and I love that. He is so mental about everything that he will take that to Palm Springs next week and will do two days with the INDYCAR, and I'm really anxious to see how that goes. But he deserves it.

Q. The guy who finished the race for you, I think where you're into the Tom Blomqvist era here at Meyer Shank Racing. Can you kind of explain or put into context how much he's done for this team over the past year? It seems like he kind of came a little bit out of nowhere and has become like a superstar. Can you describe all of that?

MICHAEL SHANK: So I've been asked that a couple times this week because of last year's performance. There's some really interesting things he did last year in our sports car.

He was with BMW and Formula E and the DTM for them and he did a lot of high level stuff, and then kind of, I don't know, fell out of favor or I don't know what happened, but he was a free agent. I started looking at his numbers and I'm like, we should test this guy. So I take him to Road Atlanta in the DPi car in the fall of '21, and he got in this car and just slayed it. I called him, I said, I've got our guy. This is our guy. There's no question about it.

Now what's happened, though, and I think if you look back at the Rolex here last year, what he did, he's a gold -- he's a nugget. He reminds me a little bit when Wickens came into INDYCAR out of DTM. He's just got this -- he truly believes he's the fastest guy out there, and he proved it tonight.

Even that first stint of his from the get-go yesterday. We believe in him.

JIM MEYER: Who can forget his qualifying run last week was incredible, just incredible story.

We're thrilled to be in the Tom Blomqvist business, yeah.

MICHAEL SHANK: I went after him. Now we've got him locked up. He isn't going anywhere.

JIM MEYER: Mike is absolutely right. He said, I'm going to test this guy. I go, I don't even know who this guy is. He goes, leave to me, and then literally one minute, he said, we're done. We have who we need. Our future in sports car racing, and it's great.

Q. We've heard all about the cooperation between the two Acura teams. Tell us a little bit about particularly those last laps and how close it all was.

MICHAEL SHANK: You know, I believe that we have a very good relationship considering we've raced against each other for a very long time and we're both super competitive people. We were texting, what can I do -- when he was three laps down, I think he thought he was done, which we knew he wasn't at the time, but he came over, what can we do to help you?

That's kind of the men -- it's probably hard to believe, but we text -- you can look at my phone. We texted for the last half hour on those restarts, how are we going to do this? What are we going to do? How are we not going to make a fool of Acura? That's my number one concern.

Wayne, how they raced us at the end, there's nothing better than that. Here come the boys.

THE MODERATOR: We'll have the drivers join us on stage, as well. We're joined by all four of our winning drivers, as well. Colin Braun, this is his third Rolex 24 at Daytona Class victory, fourth IMSA victory at Daytona, 23rd series class victory, first overall win in the Rolex 24.

Helio Castroneves, this is his third Rolex 24 overall victory. Third consecutive. He's the second driver to do that, joining Peter Gregg. Peter Gregg's wins were in 1973, 1975, and 1976. Before you stop me and say, hang on a second, that is not three in a row, it is because in 1974 the race did not run due to a fuel crisis.

But Helio is the first one to do it three straight years. This is his 10th victory here in IMSA. Also won the season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Simon Pagenaud, second Rolex 24 Daytona victory; second consecutive; 12th IMSA class victory.

And Tom, second Rolex 24 win, second consecutive third class victory. He's the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship DPi champion, and he also won the finale at Michelin Raceway.

Q. Talking to all you guys throughout the weekend, the vibe has been incredibly fun, casual, as compared to some of the more buttoned up teams who are serious about this. I know you're serious but you've been joking around. How important is that vibe?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Look, he just said it. Look, we have an incredible group of guys here, but most important is actually an incredible -- it starts from the top, Mike and Jim basically able to put it together, these really committed people that wants to succeed, and not only they are doing it but with passion.

Sometimes people have different perspectives when you see -- you don't need to wear a suit and tie or follow some of the whatever other people do just to achieve success. As long as you're surrounded by good people, you're able to put a great program together, and that's exactly what it is.

Mike is actually a passion person. I relate quite a lot sometimes. I have to stay --

MICHAEL SHANK: In the last half hour, we can't do that --

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I was actually more than him. I was actually downstairs. I didn't want to interfere. That's the thing. The way I see it, it comes from the top, and the results is coming.

This is just the beginning -- it's not a beginning anymore. It's already a proving point. Mike has already proved a point that his system works. The people that he hired works. Yeah, this is just a continuation of what we started last year and in years past.

TOM BLOMQVIST: I think what's so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that's why we're such high achievers.

I think there's no egos. It's a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that's why we've achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition, I think.

Q. Specifically for Helio, initially after the race ended, you seemed emotional. You even kind of waved a camera away, which we don't see you do often (laughter) --

SIMON PAGENAUD: That must have been a misunderstanding.

Q. What's going on? Was that a show, or were you feeling something?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Look, to do three in a row, he just said, it's not -- look, it's a very tough sport. You lose more than win some. All of a sudden when you win like this and the way it was, the expectation, you saw Mike talking about Acura, everyone was not knowing, and all of a sudden you're right there and about to achieve this amazing dream.

Yes, I am an emotional guy. I have my family here. My daughter was here. My wife wasn't but my dad was here. That's how we started.

So yeah, it did touch me in a way that that's why I love so much this sport, because it's very hard, and when you get it, you've got to celebrate.

Q. Tom, how did it feel from the drop of the green? You seemed to just set the tone and say, we've got the fastest car, and then you finished it out this year, which you didn't get to do last year. How did it feel to do both of those things?

TOM BLOMQVIST: Yeah, obviously the team for putting the faith in me for both those parts. You know, my life was made easier with the car that I had under me today and all week really this car has been -- I can't really thank everyone at HPD and Acura, even Oreca, MSI, and even WTR really, because this has kind of been a joint effort from the early days.

The first time we hit the ground running with this car for the very first time, it was, wow, I think we've got something here. Every time we drove we were like, this is -- we're quick. We obviously thought everyone was playing big huge games because we were always quick, but I think it proves just how good our car is.

And that's just such a congratulations really to everyone who's been a part of this project. Yeah, I was confident that I had the edge over the Cadillacs, to be honest. We were good at the restarts, so I was confident with them behind that I could manage the situation better.

But once the team got also a little bit more nervous because I knew they were probably the second fastest car on track, and I have enough experience with Filipe to know he's going for it if he sees an opportunity.

But I said, just keep it cool. Just trust what I had, and basically just try and get every little bit of performance out of the car, and thankfully I was able to do that. My life was made a lot easier this week by every single one of us at this team.

Q. You drove the stint of your life, and he said you're in a really good head space and now you're going to take that to Thermal for the preseason test this week. Can you talk about that stint and how good you obviously felt today, and are you in a good place now heading into the INDYCAR season because it feels like to us you've got that confidence that you had maybe in 2019 after winning in Indy.

SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, I feel great. It's like Helio kind of said, it's the environment that I'm in, the teammates that I had this weekend. Mike, Jim, and how they make me feel about myself really. Personally I've worked on myself this winter to improve and keep pushing.

Every driver in the world is doing that. We're all doing it. But it's about finding what works for you. I've found a few things that I'm feeling really good, but the car is suiting me well. Acura built something that I really enjoy driving, and I felt really great for the whole 24. Never got tired when the team needed me to do more stints, I stayed in --

TOM BLOMQVIST: I've got to thank you for that, mate, because it saved me an hour in the car.

SIMON PAGENAUD: That's why I go to the gym for you.

TOM BLOMQVIST: You keep it up, mate.

SIMON PAGENAUD: But yeah, I just had a really good 24 hours. A lot of fun, felt in a zone for sure. On that last stint I was definitely the most in the zone of the whole race.

Q. Mike, I saw you on pit road before the race on Saturday morning and we had a conversation about how it was going to go down. As we look at the drivers and what you've done, how does it feel in terms of coming from such a rather humble beginning of putting it all together maybe in comparison to some of the other teams you're competing against in these ranks and in INDYCAR? I have to imagine this is just overwhelming at times.

MICHAEL SHANK: It is. I grew up -- that stage we were up here the other day, those are people I grew up with. I didn't think I ever deserved to be on a stage with them.

Our business really took off when Jim and I got together. We were doing fine, but when Jim and I got together in 2018, a lot of things changed in a positive way. It allowed us to take it to another level.

I think it's a great story. It's like, imagine winning the Kentucky Derby or having something at Augusta, but I got to do it, which is incredible from where I came from. I'm very appreciative of it. Jim and I just keep growing the thing.

JIM MEYER: I want to clarify. We get this question, and I guess I was okay with it in 2018. We've won this race now twice. We've won the Indianapolis 500 -- people need to be aware, we're just as good as anybody out there.

We're prepared to go get the best drivers and the best talent and the best equipment in the world. We run our operation very sensibly. But it's not acceptable to us to just do okay. We're here to be able to beat, whether it's Penske or Andretti or Ganassi or Zak Brown's team every day. That's what we're here for.

Q. Just to follow on that, Jim and Mike, when do we see Acura Meyer Shank at Le Mans?

SIMON PAGENAUD: That's a great question. I love it.

MICHAEL SHANK: This is an easy answer. It's not up to Jim and I. It's up to the mothership Honda and Acura. When they decide it's time for us to go, that's when we'll go. And we would love to do it, of course. I did it before Jim came into my life in P2, but to be able to go over there and go for the overall win is a thing we would love to do, but not until Honda, HPD, and Acura --

JIM MEYER: Just for the record, I think the race ended at like 1:38. I asked him at 1:46, okay, because we had congratulations -- by the way, HPD Acura could not have had a better day with both of their cars finishing one-two, very competitive, and really proud to be their partner.

When Mike and I got together, we kind of -- I kind of said, for me, I want to win the Indianapolis 500, I want to win the Rolex 24. I never thought we would win them this quickly, to be honest with you. But once you win them, it gets really hard to get the taste out of your system.

But Le Mans was the third one on our list, and we certainly -- it is what we want to do.

Q. Before the drivers came in, Mike was telling us that there was a gearbox problem from about lap 200. Were you all aware of that fact, and did you do anything to adjust for that?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I wasn't until they mentioned about we're losing time on the pits and we mentioned about there was something in the gearbox. But never -- I never asked because I didn't want to know the answer and it put something in my head while I was driving. What they did was perfect. I never felt anything inside the car.

TOM BLOMQVIST: Luckily it wasn't anything that affected when we were out on track driving, so that was good. We also had a small battery issue towards the end. We couldn't stop the car in the pits the way we needed to, so we had to keep the engine running, and that was always a little bit more stressful.

Yeah, it's just been -- what HPD has done, this is the first race. We've all got the same regulation. We all had to reach the same targets. We're all driving under the same power, the same weights, and we've done the best job.

Yeah, that is hats off to everyone who's been a part of this project.

Q. Helio, you've been there for three of the team's -- well, all three of the team's last victories. How much credit are you taking for them? And how big of a raise are you asking for?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Hey, you want to be my manager? I like that.

Look, I've been very happy with everyone here, and we are going towards a great future. Yeah, I can't thank them enough to give me the opportunity. We all fulfilling our dreams at the moment, and when everything is working, we want to keep it going.

JIM MEYER: I'll tell you a funny story. When Mike and I got together with Helio, you remember our first season we only did six races, so we were discussing with Helio how we wanted to do that, and Helio said, I could do the Rolex for you if you want.

Mike said, Helio, we've already got our slate full. I think it took him five minutes after he won the Rolex to send me a picture of his watch. So you know, there was a little bit of pushing on all sides, let's put it that way.

Q. Colin, your first overall win. I guess you were a little aggressive at times out there. Did you have to regulate -- was that the pressure of driving for a factory team?

COLIN BRAUN: Yeah, I mean, I guess for me I didn't think it was crazily aggressive. I think with this car you get in situations where the closing speed is so much faster on the straightaways when you've got to go somewhere with the momentum, and I think oftentimes it's more dangerous just to stop and jam on the brakes. I knew there was guys coming behind me.

I felt like I was in a position where I had to go somewhere with it, and so yeah, went to the top and scraped by. It was fine.

SIMON PAGENAUD: So you do remember that moment?

COLIN BRAUN: I do too. I was like, we're good, we're good.

Q. You've had this career that's gone up and down, this arc. Did you ever picture yourself climbing the fence?

COLIN BRAUN: No. I would say I definitely pictured myself winning the race I would say, but I never thought I would be climbing the fence with Helio for sure. He's got good style when it comes down to that.

But no, super proud of all these guys. I think we haven't touched on it too much, but hats off to Ryan McCarthy and Vincent up on the box. Those guys managed this race the entire day, throughout all the little issues we had, little things here and there.

Those guys just did such a good job at staying cool, staying calm, and managing the whole program for us. Yeah, couldn't do it without them.

JIM MEYER: For the record, we're Colin fans, and between Colin and Tom and many, many races and then different combinations at Sebring and then finally at Road Atlanta between the four of us, we expect to win a lot of races, and we expect Colin to play a big role in that.

THE MODERATOR: We'll let you guys get going.

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