Franchitti’s Suave colors highlight Detroit livery changes

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The start of the IZOD IndyCar Series season hasn’t yet gone to plan for Dario Franchitti, and perhaps a change of livery in Detroit will do him well.

Franchitti put in perhaps his finest drive of 2012 a year ago, when he qualified 14th, and carved his way to second place behind Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon.

He’ll run his third special paint scheme in six race weekends this year, as he’ll reprise the colors of Suave for Men on the No. 10 Honda. The car shifts from his usual red paint scheme to a charcoal and white entry.

The timing is appropriate given Franchitti just recently made Esquire magazine’s “Hair Hall of Fame” a couple days ago.

Franchitti won’t be the only one with a slightly altered livery in Detroit.

AJ Allmendinger will have a slightly different white/black paint scheme in deference to Quicken Loans, the presenting sponsor in the race operated and promoted by team boss Roger Penske.

Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan goes with a charcoal and lime green livery on his No. 11 KV Racing Technology – SH Chevrolet, with new sponsor

Schmidt Peterson rookie Tristan Vautier reverts back to the black, orange and white in his No. 55 Honda, same as it was for the first four races, both Dragon Racing Chevrolets (Sebastien Bourdais, Sebastian Saavedra) revert to their same liveries as the first four races, and Josef Newgarden is back in the gray, blue and black No. 67 for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing after a yellow, white and black No. 21 car with Century 21 support at Indianapolis.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”