Brazilians in Brazil: Helio’s six-pack of struggles

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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.

Montoya: ‘Hopefully I get a chance to do Indy again’ (VIDEO)

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Juan Pablo Montoya is on site at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, his latest trip in a summer and fall filled with a lot of international travel and a number of different race cars he’s been in.

Montoya is committed to a full season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Acura Team Penske in 2018, as he’ll share one of the team’s Acura ARX-05s with Dane Cameron.

However, the question of whether he’ll be able to race in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil remains.

Team Penske has said it plans to only run four cars next month of May, with Helio Castroneves as the fourth driver alongside the three full-time cars driven by Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power.

While Montoya has said elsewhere that he’s shopping offers and has talked with other teams, it’d be highly surprising to see the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion who developed the Chevrolet engine for IndyCar’s 2018 Dallara universal body kit in a Honda-powered IndyCar, although he is running Honda’s brand (Acura) in sports cars.

Montoya elaborated on his Indy 500 prospects in an interview with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton at the Circuit of The Americas.

“Not full-time no,” Montoya told NBCSN of his IndyCar 2018 prospects. “Hopefully I get a chance to go to Indy, hopefully with Penske, (and) if not someone else. We’ll see.”

Photo: IndyCar

Montoya has extolled the early testing both on the 2018 IndyCar and on the Acura ARX-05.

The first Acura chassis has run at Road Atlanta and Sebring International Raceway thus far, and will be put through its paces at other venues over the next few months.

“It’s been good. We did a lot of work with INDYCAR on that car. Fans are gonna like it,” Montoya said of the 2018 kit.

“Going to IMSA with the Acura program, we’ve done a lot of testing. It’s a beauty to drive. It drives better than what it looks! I haven’t had that much fun driving a race car in a long time.”

Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race car to be campaigned by Team Penske in 2018