Blomqvist stood down by Coyne after Indy 500 crash

Meyer Shank Racing has released full-time driver Tom Blomqvist for the next two IndyCar races, with Helio Castroneves taking his place.

Blomqvist made his Indianapolis 500 debut last weekend, but made a mistake at Turn 1 on the first lap, taking out Marcus Ericsson and Pietro Fittipaldi in the process.

Despite issuing a lengthy press release featuring quotes from team co-owner Mike Shank and Blomqvist, no reason was given for the drop, despite it coming on the heels of a difficult Brickyard event, and with Blomqvist sitting 24th in points compared to Felix. Rosenqvist in the top ten.

“It's fair to say the last two days have been some of the hardest days of my career,” Blomqvist said in the team's announcement, which confirms he will miss Detroit this weekend and America the following week.

“Everyone who knows me knows how much I love being part of the MSR family and together we have enjoyed some amazing successes and victories.

“I look forward to remaining part of the MSR family and contributing to the MSR vision as we strive for greater success in the future.”

“Making this decision was by far the hardest decision we have ever had to make,” Shank added.

“Tom is still 100% part of the MSR family and will remain part of the team for the rest of the season.

He added: “The decision was not made lightly, and after a long discussion with Tom, and with back-to-back races approaching, we decided to drive the Helio in Detroit and at Road America.”

Castroneves finished 20th in the Indy 500 last weekend. He stepped down from full-time racing after full IndyCar seasons in 2022-23, which came after winning a 500 race on a partial schedule in 2021.

Race says

Indy 500 crash

It's highly unusual to see an IndyCar team let go of a driver after five races in a season — especially when that team has known said driver for years, sees first-hand what he can do in a sports car, and had three additional races to finally evaluate last year while Blomqvist He comes in for the injured Simon Pagenaud.

I have to wonder whether this decision was made partly with Blomkvist's blessing – he says “mutual” in the press release – as part of a plan to help him after 500 difficult days, because otherwise it makes no sense.

The 49-year-old Castroneves had a best road and street finish of 11th at Nashville last season, and has finished 19th and 15th in the two races he's running now. Blomqvist also has a top-15 to his name this season.

Tom Blomqvist in IndyCar so far

Toronto 2023
Start: 20 / Finish: 25 (DNF)

Portland 2023
Start: 27 / Finish: 24

Laguna Seca 2023
Start: 21 / Finish: 26 (DNF)

Saint Petersburg 2024
Start: 17 / Finish: 15

Long Beach 2024
Start: 15 / Finish: 22

Barber 2024
Start: 12 / Finish: 19

Indianapolis Grand Prix 2024
Start: 26 / Finish: 23

Indy 500 2024
Start: 25 / Finish: 31 (DNF)

While Castroneves is a great champion and four-time Indy 500 winner, it has been some time since he reached the level of someone like Rosenqvist on both road and street course. It's been 10 years since his last win on the road and street – and coincidentally also in Detroit.

So it's not as if he brings the modern form of Road America, or years of knowledge of Detroit (the track was changed last year) to the table. It's a temporary solution, but what is the ultimate goal?

Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank, IndyCar

Road America is much closer to the type of twisty and undulating road course Blomqvist grew up on in Europe while his best results/form to date have come on street circuits.

Surely two good chances to fight for a good result and get rid of the disastrous 500 is the better option?

Don't put your left front below the white line in Turn 1 at Indy, let alone touch the grass. Especially at the start of the race with new tires – even if there is less time on the track and no oval race before that race, which makes the 500 a very difficult race for newcomers.

While Blomqvist has proven to be a talented driver, it is difficult to see what having two races on the sidelines will do other than deprive him of the same amount of experience as his rookie rivals. Helio may be popular with sponsors but is not a long-term solution to finding a model at Rosenqvist's level.

Although the press release states that Blomqvist will remain part of the team, and that this is just two races, it is difficult to imagine how either of them could return as if nothing had happened from this.

Tom Blomqvist, Meyer Shank, IndyCar

I think it's fair to say that Blomqvist hasn't done enough yet to prove that he warrants a long-term future in the franchise. But we're also only five races into his first full season. He and Shank signed on the back of years of success in sports cars and three IndyCar races last season.

Even if its oval shape is worrying, we don't have another one of these until July, five events from now. Assuming he's capable and of a healthy mindset, I'd give him until then to turn things around.

For Shank, Helio makes sense for the next two races because of the difficulty of finding and signing another driver, and as co-owner of the team, Castroneves can step in and out on an ad hoc basis rather than having to sign a new driver to a deal. . This item makes sense.

I've always respected the decision making of Mike Shank and Jim Mayer at MSR. They were always practical even when making huge decisions.

I hope they prove me wrong on this.

Change back in Quinn

Tristan Vauthier, SPM, IndyCar

Another Detroit driver change will see 34-year-old Frenchman Tristan Vautier move into the No. 51 for Dale Coyne Racing.

Vauthier will remarkably become the fifth different driver to take part in just six rounds, joining Colin Brown, Nolan Siegel, Luca Ghiotto (the only driver to have done multiple rounds in the No. 51 car to date) and Catherine Legge.

Vautier, the 2012 Indy Lights champion, ran a full campaign with Schmidt Peterson Hamilton in 2013 (pictured above) and a half-season with Coyne in 2015, but has not raced in IndyCar since a single start with Coyne seven years ago.

Detroit will also celebrate the return of Theo Bourchier to the cockpit of the No. 6 Arrow McLaren, with the Frenchman taking over the entry duty for the rest of the season after Callum Ilott ran in the 500.


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