IMSA champion Meyer Shank Racing to pause sports car program in 2024 and focus on IndyCar
FILE -Tom Blomqvist in the No. 60 Acura leads the field to start the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Daytona Beach, Fla. Meyer Shank Racing, the reigning IMSA sports car championship team with back-to-back Rolex 24 at Daytona victories, will pause the program in 2024 and focus only on its IndyCar organization. The departure from sports car racing comes after a cheating scandal at Daytona in January, which Shank won in the new Acura ARX-06 hybrid GTP. But Acura later alerted IMSA that the team was found to have illegally lowered its tire pressures. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
Jenna Fryer, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, October 3, 2023 3:46PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 3, 2023 3:46PM EDT
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Meyer Shank Racing, the reigning IMSA sports car championship team with back-to-back Rolex 24 at Daytona victories, will pause the program in 2024 and focus only on its IndyCar organization.
Shank will finish the season later this month with the Petit Le Mans season finale, the 351st sports car race for the organization. The team has grown from a race-winning privateer effort into a full-fledged factory operation and won IMSA championships with Acura in 2019, 2020 and 2022.
With two wins this season, Shank heads into the season finale mathematically eligible to defend its title.
But the program pause comes as Acura opted to field a second car with Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti rather than one car each with WTR and Shank. Shank was unable to land a deal with another manufacturer in time to commit to the 2024 IMSA season.
MSR owners Mike Shank and Jim Meyer plan to keep its IMSA staff employed to prepare for the team's eventual return to IMSA competition.
“Making the decision to take a year away from IMSA was not an easy one by any means,” Shank said. “Our guys live and breathe this team, and have committed most of their lives to working on these cars and traveling to races — and many of them have been with us for nearly 20 years. For Jim and I, our main focus was getting our guys set and making sure they were all going to be OK, which we were able to do.
“There are a lot of projects that we have going at the shop, and of course some of the guys will be helping with our growing IndyCar program."
The IndyCar lineup has been overhauled for next year with sports car champion Tom Blomqvist and Felix Ronsenqvist replacing Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud. Castroneves will run the Indianapolis 500.
“The third Indianapolis 500 entry for Helio is a very big deal and I’m glad to have the right people in place to help us be as ready as possible for him to go get that fifth one,” Shank said. "And then when we need to prepare for the IMSA program, we’ll still have this great group together and ready to go.”
The departure from sports car racing comes after a cheating scandal at Daytona in January, which Shank won in the new Acura ARX-06 hybrid GTP. But Acura later alerted IMSA that the team was found to have illegally lowered its tire pressures.
Shank was permitted to keep the victory but fired the employee responsible. Since it was Acura that reported the cheating, it has long been assumed that Acura would drop Shank at the end of the season in favor of Wayne Taylor Racing.
“We are not going anywhere, we’ll be gone for now, but definitely not forever,” Shank said. "Taking next year to step back and focus on our IndyCar program will be important for us as a team.”