Helio Castroneves to run throwback Pennzoil Penske livery in Indy 500

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Thirty years after Rick Mears won his second of four Indianapolis 500s in a Pennzoil car for Roger Penske, Penske’s current most successful driver at the ‘500 will pay homage to it at this year’s race.

Team Penske has announced Helio Castroneves, a three-time winner, will race in the No. 3 Pennzoil Dallara-Chevrolet at this year’s race. It’s a natural extension of the Shell/Pennzoil relationship the team enjoys and will see Castroneves’ No. 3 adorned in the yellow and red that Mears’ car carried.

The unveil occurred on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway plaza, with Mears’ 84 winner and Johnny Rutherford’s iconic 1980-winning Chaparral 2K flanking the new No. 3. To boot, Castroneves will wear a helmet similar to Mears’, only with “HELIO” adorned in all yellow caps on a red background rather than Mears.  Both Mears and Rutherford were in attendance, with their cars, at the unveil.

And I’ll say this: the car. Looks. Awesome.

“For me, it’s an inspiration. Right now, it’s an honor to be wearing the yellow color, not because of Dancing With the Stars but it helps,” Castroneves said. “But just to see this, what an honor having these guys around helping me out to unveil the car. I want to thank Pennzoil with the new product and I’m excited to be representing you guys. It sounds like it’s a good luck charm. I feel like a small fish in a big ocean right now with those two legends over here.

“At the end of the day, Penske has a great history here at the Speedway. I can’t wait to be sitting in that car at the beginning of practice after the Indianapolis GP and I can’t wait to go race with these colors. And a special thanks to Rick for allowing me to use the colors of his helmet. I’m extremely thankful and honored to be wearing not only the Pennzoil colors but Rick’s helmet colors, too.”

Castroneves’ No. 3 will be red and white for this weekend’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis, with a Verizon livery. All three Penske cars will be in Verizon colors this weekend.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”