Helio Castroneves has made six prior IndyCar starts in Brazil: three in the CART era from 1998 through 2000 on the old Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway oval in Rio, and three in Sao Paulo since IndyCar’s return in 2010.
He’s never really hit the jackpot from a results standpoint.
The younger, then hyphenated Castro-Neves, failed to finish all three of his starts in CART. An engine failure sidelined him in his rookie year of 1998, with turbo and gearbox failures happening in the next two years.
A nondescript start and finish of ninth kicked off his Sao Paulo run, before being caught up in an accident with countryman Tony Kanaan in 2011 and ending 21st. Castroneves improved from 18th to fourth a year ago for his best race through the streets of Sao Paulo to this point.
The IndyCar series points leader could bank a nice result for additional momentum heading into the month of May in Indianapolis. After two races in AAA and “Turbo” livery, Castroneves returns to the Hitachi colors as raced at St. Petersburg this weekend.
Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.
Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.
“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”
Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”