- Simon Pagenaud [Copyright: Simon Pagenaud Twitter]

Pagenaud switches to Meyer Shank for 2022 IndyCar season; VeeKay remains at ECR

Two more slots are firm for the 2022 IndyCar season.

Simon Pagenaud will switch to Meyer Shank Racing as Rinus VeeKay will remain at Ed Carpenter Racing for the 2022 IndyCar season.

INDYCAR SERIES Champion and winner of the 2019 Indianapolis 500 Simon Pagenaud will join Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) for the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship driving the No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda. Pagenaud will team with four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves in the No. 06 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda.

Pagenaud will be joining MSR which has grown its presence in the series continuously since it’s series debut in 2017 with a one-off entry in the 2017 Indianapolis 500. In five short years, MSR won the prestigious 2021 Indianapolis 500 with Castroneves. The 2022 season will mark the first two-car full-time campaign for MSR as it will field two Indianapolis 500 winners in the team’s hunt for the 2022 INDYCAR championship.

“Next year will be a big year for MSR and I think we have a very strong lineup of drivers between Simon and Helio,” said Mike Shank. “We have built this program every year, growing with our partners and working to have all the ingredients we need to be competitive. Our Indianapolis 500 win was a big breakthrough, and we are looking forward to having a consistently competitive program that will have the chance to fight for wins and podiums no matter where we go and I think this lineup will help us do that.”

“This is such an exciting time in my career,” said Pagenaud. “MSR has proven it is a high-quality organization when they won the Indianapolis 500 and pairing Helio and me together will help our team in 2022 and beyond. I’m really looking forward to this new challenge.”

Pagenaud claimed the 2019 Indianapolis 500 victory with a convincing run out front after starting from the pole. He was the first polesitter to win the Indianapolis 500 since Helio Castroneves in 2009. Pagenaud also scored a strong third-place podium finish in the 2021 edition of the race. Pagenaud also won the 2016 INDYCAR Championship and has 15 wins, 14 poles and 37 podium finishes since making his series debut in 2011.

Beyond his success in INDYCAR, Pagenaud has also shown strength in sports car competition, collecting podium finishes in the most iconic IMSA SportsCar Championship races. Pagenaud finished second in the 2021 Rolex 24 at Daytona and collected a third place finish in the 2017 and 2020 Petit Le Mans. He also participated in some prestigious European endurance races, the most iconic being the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans where he missed victory by a very close margin.

Before becoming a champion in America, Pagenaud competed in Europe for several years, winning the ‘Volant Elf’, a young drivers’ competition, in 2001, which marked the start of his career. Until 2006 he moved through the ranks of some of the most renowned young drivers’ formulae in Europe before deciding to pursue his career in the United States.

Meyer Shank Racing will head into the 2022 race season equipped with two-full season INDYCAR entries with the returning support from primary sponsors AutoNation and SiriusXM as well as continued partnerships with CAP fixtures, Rocky Fork Co. and Roberts Service Group.

Rinus VeeKay:

Ed Carpenter Racing announced today that Rinus VeeKay will officially remain with the team for the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. The 21-year-old will continue as full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet, a role he will now hold for a third season. When the 2021 season concludes today in the streets of Long Beach, VeeKay’s focus will immediately shift to 2022’s 17-race schedule.

“I am very excited to have another season with Ed Carpenter Racing! We made so much progress this year, I had my first win in IndyCar and made many great memories. Next year, we can be better than we’ve ever been!” stated VeeKay. “We want to be championship contenders, to go for even better results, more frequent wins and podium finishes. The atmosphere at ECR is perfect for that, it feels like a group of friends who are eager to work hard for strong results. I am excited to continue that in 2022 and not having anything change!”

Raised in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, Rinus van Kalmthout began karting in 2009 at the age of 8. With sights set firmly on the pinnacle of North American open wheel racing, he transitioned to the Road to Indy in 2017 and launched his U.S. career driving as Rinus VeeKay. His rapid ascent through the RTI ranks included 16 wins and 36 podiums in 48 races. Those statistics propelled him to second place in the 2017 USF2000 standings, the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 title and a runner-up finish in the 2019 Indy Lights championship. Just four years into his career in the United States, VeeKay not only reached the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, but earned 2020 Rookie of the Year honors.

ECR team owner Ed Carpenter watched VeeKay’s progression through in the Road to Indy and selected the Dutch driver for his team in late 2019. VeeKay has been with ECR ever since and will make his 29th career start this afternoon. “I am very happy that Rinus will be back behind the wheel for ECR in 2022,” said Carpenter. “Rinus has continued to show that he has the talent and work ethic to be a champion and that’s the goal of our team. We look forward to more success next season!”

Though VeeKay is only two years into his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career, he has already built an impressive resume. In addition to his Rookie of the Year title, his debut season included his first pole position and first podium finish. In 2020, he recorded the best qualifying result by a teenager in Indianapolis 500 history by starting 4th; in 2021, he qualified 3rd and became the youngest front row starter in “500” history. In May of this year, VeeKay joined the ranks of NTT INDYCAR SERIES race winners. He earned his first career victory in the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

VeeKay is grateful for the support he has received. “I want to thank Ed Carpenter for giving me the opportunity to drive for another season! Ed was the one that gave me the chance to be able to prove myself in IndyCar and I am very grateful to him.” He continued, “Thank you to Tony George, Stuart Reed and the entire team, every single person who makes this possible. I am the one driving, but there is a whole team behind me working day a night to give me a good, reliable car. I also really appreciate the support of ECR’s partners, including SONAX and Direct Supply, for allowing us to work hard, improve and take a big step forward this offseason.”

A third year with the Indianapolis-based team will make VeeKay the longest-tenured full-time driver in Ed Carpenter Racing’s 10-year history. Since its inception in 2012, ECR has raced exclusively in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The team has shown versatility by earning eight wins on each style of track the series competes on – street and road courses, short ovals and speedways. ECR boasts 36 Top 5s to date, 23 of which have been podium finishes. For nine of their 10 Indianapolis 500s, ECR has had at least one car qualify in the first three rows. An ECR Chevrolet has sat on the front row seven of those years, including three pole positions by Carpenter (2013, 2014 and 2018).

ECR’s 2022 campaign will the team continue to compete with two full-time entries, the No. 20 and No. 21. While the No. 21 will feature VeeKay for the full season, Carpenter will continue as oval driver of the No. 20 in his 20th season of Indy car competition. VeeKay’s third NTT INDYCAR SERIES SEASON will begin February 27, 2022 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

[Note: The above two is straight from the press release with no edits made]

[Image courtesy: Simon Pagenaud Twitter, IndyCar]

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