There are several drivers from the IndyCar Series competing in this weekend’s endurance classic, but Castroneves is not among them.
After making his Daytona debut in 2018, the Brazilian immersed himself – and quickly became a force – in sports car racing. During a stretch of his career that served as a brief hiatus from IndyCar, he helped guide Team Penske’s Acura program to a championship in 2020.
However, it was the move to Wayne Taylor Racing in 2021 that earned him the famed Rolex for winning the twice-around-the-clock classic, which happened just four months prior to earning his record-tying fourth victory in the Indianapolis 500 in a one-off – that turned into more – for Meyer Shank Racing.
Even with a full-time return to the IndyCar Series the previous two years, Castroneves continued to compete in select IMSA rounds, which included finding Victory Lane both times at the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona.
Entering 2024, he takes on a partial ownership role at Meyer Shank Racing – which is not competing in IMSA this year – while also reducing his full-time commitment to strictly a one-off as he hunts for a record fifth Indy 500 win.
Meanwhile, Tom Blomqvist, who Castroneves teamed with each the past two years in IMSA, will be taking on a full-time rookie campaign in the IndyCar Series with MSR. Additionally, though, the Briton will also serve as a co-driver for sports car endurance rounds with Action Express Racing, including Datyona.
Just because there are less chances behind the wheel, though, doesn’t mean the desire to compete for Castroneves has diminished.
Far from it.
As a three-time defending winner at Daytona, the 48-year-old was dejected to not get an opportunity to chase a fourth victory that would tie him with Pedro Rodríguez, Bob Wollek, Peter Gregg and Rolf Stommelen.
The most successful drivers in event history are Hurley Haywood and Scott Pruett with five wins apiece.
“Disappointed, to be honest,” Castroneves said.
“I definitely would have liked to defend the race win and tried to go four in a row.
“But I’m glad that I have a lot on my plate, as well, at the same time with MSR, even though MSR is not in the sports car program. We’re working hard to come back in the near future.
“But yeah, I wish everyone a great race and good luck for sure.”