Castroneves “shocked” after Texas penalty, but focused on Milwaukee

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Helio Castroneves’ win at Texas was slightly diminished by the post-race penalty for the underwing violation. He took time in the media center Friday morning ahead of the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Milwaukee IndyFest to explain how he felt after hearing the infraction had been issued.

“Honestly I was very shocked,” he said. “The team has done an amazing job. We will not let this outshine what we did. It was a simple mistake. It was still good to win and have the momentum.”

The grind of races – six in five weekends from Indianapolis at the end of May to Iowa next weekend – has made it very difficult for teams to keep up on the setup changes.

“People are so tired from changing the cars over from ovals to street course setup and back,” Castroneves explained. “It wasn’t a performance issue. But the downforce changed it up. Our setup was so good.”

Interestingly, the win at Texas was the first this year for Castroneves with his team boss Roger Penske calling his race. Castroneves worked for years with Penske Racing president Tim Cindric and more recently, with John Erickson. The points leader described what it meant to win one with Penske on the box.

“Roger is incredible to have; he helped a lot last race,” Castroneves said. “We should be two-for-two. I made a mistake in St. Pete. With his experience, you can’t buy that. Forget the computers. He’s been through so many circumstances. It’s unique and important to have him and with him on the box, we have a very good group this year.”

Milwaukee has been Castroneves’ “bogey track,” as he has yet to win here since his first start in 1998. This year marks the 15-year anniversary of his best result at the Mile, second in his rookie season with the late Tony Bettenhausen’s team.

Now, the points leader enters Milwaukee with a 22-point margin to Marco Andretti, and seeks that elusive first win in West Allis. He races this week in blue, black and white colors of PPG Industries on the No. 3 Chevrolet.

Verizon confirms IndyCar title sponsor role exit after 2018

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As perhaps expected, Verizon has confirmed Friday it will end its role as Verizon IndyCar Series title sponsor following the end of its fifth year in 2018.

Reports surfaced shortly after this year’s IndyCar season finale at Sonoma Raceway that Verizon was re-evaluating its role within the series.

Indeed, as it was before becoming title sponsor in 2014, Verizon will remain a partner with Team Penske despite not also carrying the series title sponsor role.

In a statement, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles thanked Verizon for its support in this overall series role.

“Verizon has been a super sponsor and will continue to be so through all of next season. We appreciate that they reached their decision in a timely way so that we can thoughtfully and deliberately go back into the market for 2019,” Miles said in a statement, via Sports Business Journal.

Roger Penske also issued a statement, also via SBJ, saying, “We want to thank Verizon for the support they have provided the IndyCar Series and the role they have played as they helped us grow the sport as the title sponsor for the past five years. Verizon has helped the series reach new fans through their world-class activation and technology, including the Verizon IndyCar Mobile App. While they will no longer be the Series Title Sponsor after 2018, it is exciting they will still be in the sport through their relationship with our organization.”

The Verizon IndyCar Series has built a wave of momentum over the last few years with its competition level, parity and enthusiasm for some revived events, with Gateway Motorsports Park and Road America standing out as highlights being brought back after an extended hiatus.

The good news for INDYCAR (sanctioning body) is that there’s a new Dallara universal aero kit that’s been busy with testing the last few months and is now in the hands of manufacturers for manufacturer testing, and the series announced long-term extensions with Dallara, Chevrolet, Honda and Firestone earlier this year. New series champion Josef Newgarden has also been busy in a number of media events and appearances since the Sonoma season finale.

With this confirmation, INDYCAR has a new entitlement sponsor to find and a new TV contract to sort, with both existing contracts up after 2018.