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IndyCar Laguna Seca

Castroneves on adapting to coaching role: "I still feel I should be driving"

Helio Castroneves is still pushing for opportunities to get behind the wheel, but has started transitioning into more of a coaching role at Meyer Shank Racing.

Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing Honda

The 48-year-old Brazilian spent the past two seasons in the IndyCar Series running full-time with MSR following his record-tying fourth Indianapolis 500 victory with the team in 2021.

Now, though, the future looks slightly different with an ownership stake now in the team co-owned by Mike Shank and Jim Meyer, while also scaling back his open-wheel duties to only the Indy 500 next year.

While Castroneves is fresh off a Petit Le Mans victory in what is MSR’s final IMSA race for the foreseeable future, he has also spent a good portion of the IndyCar offseason mentoring Tom Blomqvist, who is making the full-time switch from IMSA to IndyCar next season.

With no previous running on ovals, Castroneves has been with Blomqvist stride-for-stride for tests at Texas Motor Speedway and more recently, completing the Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Castroneves met with a small number of media, including Motorsport.com, to share how he is adapting to the role of being a teacher.

“I am not,” Castroneves said. “I saw my name up there [pointing to the sign by the timing stand] and I was like, 'Hey, that means I can do some laps. Look, it's being interesting, for sure. I still feel very much that I should be behind the wheel, but I'll go with the flow.

“It's a learning curve in all aspects. I think in life, you adapt in some circumstances. But I am enjoying it. And again, very grateful for Mike, Jim and the entire Liberty [Media] group to be able to open up this chapter and channel for me to keep it going.”

Tom Blomqvist during the rookie orientation program

Photo by: IndyCar Series

Tom Blomqvist during the rookie orientation program

Blomqvist contested three IndyCar rounds last year while stepping in for Simon Pagenaud, who was not medically cleared following a horrific practice crash at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

At 29 years old, Blomqvist has more experience than most, with a well-rounded resume that includes winning an IMSA Dpi (now GTP) title with MSR, along with single-seater bouts in Formula E and junior formula categories, among others.

“Tom has experience,” Castroneves said. “Believe it or not, he's not a rookie. I feel that helps tremendously, especially in this series that's so competitive. He does have the talent. The base that he started was with a very impressive pedigree in Europe.

“And I feel when you have that kind of comparison, no question, he didn't have the opportunity back then and didn’t have a second time; and I’m always a believer of second chances. But at this point, it's his first time. He proved in sports cars how fast he is. And in these days to adapt quick is extremely important. ... So, he will definitely be learning a lot, but showing a lot, too.”

Castroneves went on to note Blomqvist has “no bad habits” because he is a rookie, but also the addition of Felix Rosenqvist to team alongside should help provide of some knowledge and be “a good combination.”

And although Castroneves is only competing in the Indy 500 next year on the IndyCar side, he maintains a desire to fill his driving schedule elsewhere, including a chance at the Rolex 24 At Daytona – an event he has taken overall victory in each of the last three years.

“I definitely will,” said Castrneves, when asked by Motorsport.com about trying to get more opportunities at endurance racing in IMSA.

“I like to keep it sharp. I like to keep it running. I'm still doing the Indy 500, so it's always good to be behind the wheel. Probably going to do SRX as well. Plus, I want to defend... I won the last three races straight on that place in Daytona, so it would be nice to do it again.”

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