Helio happy as new IndyCar points leader

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Third-place finisher Helio Castroneves couldn’t hold off Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon in the final stages of today’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, but in the big picture, he was still a winner as he moved into first place in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings.

After dropping four positions in a frenzied opening lap of the race, Castroneves and his No. 3 Team Penske crew opted to change their strategy. The Brazilian pitted relatively early on Lap 18, but rose up to third position when the other leaders made their first stops roughly ten laps later. He would stay up front for the rest of the afternoon through stops at Laps 42 and 67, and paced 25 laps before Hunter-Reay got to the inside of him on Lap 76 and grabbed the point for good coming out of Turn 5.

“That was a shame on the start, but when we changed to Plan B, we just decided to go for it,” Castroneves said. “It paid off and it wasn’t a win but for us, for the championship, it is good and right now, we just have to keep going. We need to keep going and you have to put yourself out there…and that is what we just did today.”

Not helping Castroneves in his bid to stay at P1 was the fact that he was running the Firestone primary blacks during his final stint, while Hunter-Reay and Dixon ended their races on the alternate reds. Castroneves felt it was an unavoidable consequence of his team’s strategy decision.

“That’s the price we paid,” he told NBC Sports Network after the race.

FIA returns Manor’s F1 entry fee for 2017

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Good news: Manor Grand Prix Racing Limited got a refund of an entry fee it paid to the FIA to run in this year’s F1 season.

Bad news: Manor still hasn’t run this year, and won’t be for the foreseeable future (especially as Manor’s former leadership staff is moving that team into FIA WEC’s new-look LMP1 class in addition to its LMP2 program).

Manor Group’s receivership outfit, Just Racing Services Limited, went into administration earlier this year. As there was no new buyer for the F1 team, Manor dropped from the 2017 grid before the season.

The FIA said it would return its entry fee to help Manor Group pay off outstanding debts.

It basically means nothing in the grand scheme of things since Manor missed out on 10th place in the constructor’s standings in 2016 and fell from the F1 grid as a result, but hey, it’s a goodwill gesture going into Thanksgiving this week.