Mike Shank said “everybody” at Meyer Shank Racing “had a piece” of the team’s breakthrough win in the Indianapolis 500, with the momentum carrying into its Acura DPi program this weekend in Detroit.
The Ohio-based team celebrated victory at the Brickyard last month with reigning IMSA DPi champion and Rolex 24 at Daytona winner Helio Castroneves claiming his fourth Indianapolis 500 crown.
Arriving in Detroit for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race and NTT IndyCar Series double-header, Shank said his team is riding a “wave of love” following one of the biggest triumphs in the sporting world.
“The biggest thing that stands out is just the people that have reached out from all walks of racing,” Shank told Sportscar365.
“Whether it’s IMSA, NASCAR, whoever… The amount of people we’ve heard from, with what I believe a real genuine tone is pretty cool. It’s really overwhelming.”
Shank said every one of his crew members — including those on the IMSA side — played a part in the team’s success at Indianapolis.
Two of the team’s full-time IMSA crew — Kevin O’Donnell and Perry Melneciuc — worked on Castroneves’ Dallara-Honda at Indy.
“Everybody in our shop has had a little something to do with everything in the shop, in some form or fashion,” Shank said.
“Whether it’s to help load a trailer or help fabricate a part for the IndyCar or sports car program.
“The nice thing about being a two-car team in IndyCar and a one-car in IMSA is that we don’t have a lot of distractions.
“We can focus on the most important things we need to focus on.
“Everybody had a piece of this [win]. That’s really cool. I think everybody contributed in some way over the last eight to ten months to prepare the program to do what it did.”
While yet to visit victory lane with its new-for-2021 Acura DPi program, Shank said they’re getting “closer and closer” in fully understanding the Acura ARX-05 package.
Dane Cameron and Olivier Pla currently sit fifth in the DPi championship standings entering Saturday’s 100-minute WeatherTech Championship round.
“Four years out of [prototype racing], the switch to DPi from the P2 category has stunted us a little bit,” Shank said. “But we’ve been getting stronger.
“From a car balance perspective, we’ve been getting stronger every weekend.
“We went and tested at Watkins Glen right before the 500 and it went really well. We’ll get a hold of it for sure and get the potential out of it.
“This program is a lot to me. It’s like the anchor child of MSR. I want to be a part of this thing as it goes into LMDh.”
MSR “Very Alert” on 24H Le Mans Developments
Shank said he “absolutely” has his eyes set on a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with overall victory in the French endurance classic one of the team’s next major targets.
While currently under a multi-year contract with Acura that will stretch into the new LMDh era in 2023, Shank is cautiously optimistic of his team making a return to the race.
MSR made its one-and-only Le Mans start in 2016 with a Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 in LMP2.
“We’re very alert about how the ACO and IMSA are going to equate this new car,” he said. “Because when we go there we want a real shot of the overall win.
“I don’t think anyone can argue that. Let’s hope they can do it.
“I would love to [go back to Le Mans]. But we’d have to get invited and accepted and all that stuff.
“I don’t assume anything on that side. But I think we’ll have a pretty good package to bring to them on an entry side that would make some sense for everybody to do well.
“But we have to make sure there’s a shot at us being competitive. We need to have some opportunity.”