Simon Pagenaud’s ongoing recovery from the concussion he suffered at the Mid-Ohio NTT IndyCar Series race will keep the Frenchman out of the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing cockpit for the remainder of the season. Pagenaud continues to seek clearance to drive from IndyCar’s medical team, but it has not been granted.
In his place, MSR’s IMSA champion Tom Blomqvist, who will step up to IndyCar next year in a full-time role in the No. 06 MSR Honda, will pilot the No. 60 at Portland International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. It will mark Blomqvist’s second and third appearances in the No. 60 after standing in for Pagenaud at Toronto in July.
The news is unfortunate for Pagenaud, whose contract with MSR is up at the end of the season and will be unable to race before entering free agency.
For Blomqvist, September becomes busier than expected as the September 1-3 Portland event and the Sept. 8-10 race in Monterey will now precede his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Indianapolis on Sept. 15-17 in the hybrid No. 60 MSR Acura ARX-06 GTP.
“Obviously the circumstances are quite tricky with Simon’s recovery and the whole situation surrounding the 60 car – I know the whole team and myself included are thinking about him as he recovers,” Blomqvist said. “I’ve got to thank Jim (Meyer) and Mike (Shank) for getting me in the car and looking ahead now to next season having been confirmed to drive with MSR next year.
“It’s a good thing to be getting these races under my belt before the season and working in preparation for my full program in 2024. I got a brief test in Toronto under very challenging circumstances – without any real preparation whatsoever.”
Blomqvist takes over from Linus Lundqvist, who helmed the No. 60 for the last three rounds and did well enough to attract the Chip Ganassi Racing team’s interest for 2024. For Blomqvist, the chance to gain more mileage and experience will be invaluable as he readies himself for the open-wheel challenge that lies ahead.
“Now I’ve got a little bit more understanding and knowledge and I’m hoping it’s going to be easier this time. I’m going to have the opportunity to get into the simulator and I know a little bit more of what to expect in terms of the way the weekend runs. I don’t know Portland at all and I know everyone has been racing flat-out in the summer. It’s still going to be an absolutely huge challenge.
“The series is so, so competitive and I am still new to these cars. I’m not putting any pressure on myself and I’m just going to go out there and do my best. Hopefully I can do Mike and Jim proud and make progress with every session. Hopefully after these next two events I can be happy and put in some strong performances and go into winter break with more knowledge on the series and be able to build on this.”