Andretti, Castroneves tied for IndyCar points lead

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One wonders if Texas Motor Speedway president/general manager/master promoter Eddie Gossage is rubbing his hands with glee as the IZOD IndyCar Series heads for his ‘Wild Asphalt Circus.”

Take a look at the IndyCar standings after this weekend’s doubleheader in Detroit and you may ask yourself that question, too.

Marco Andretti, the current generation of one of racing’s most storied families, and Helio Castroneves, arguably IndyCar’s most bankable star over the last decade, are now tied atop the championship. Not to mention that the series’ reigning American titleholder, Ryan Hunter-Reay, is right behind them both.

That’s the situation as North America’s top open-wheel series prepares to go from street fighting in the Motor City to high-banked action under the lights in the Lone Star State. Andretti and Castroneves each have 206 points, while Hunter-Reay sits 15 points off their pace in third position.

But the fight for the championship could get even more crowded after Saturday night’s prime-time Firestone 550 at TMS (8:30 p.m. ET; check local listings). Scott Dixon and Detroit Dual 2 winner Simon Pagenaud are coming up fast, with Dixon in fourth at 20 points behind and Pagenaud (29 points behind) vaulting into the Top 5 after his victory on Sunday.

It should all make for a doozy of a race, which comes along as the relationship between IndyCar and TMS enters what Gossage hopes is a more positive chapter after some tense moments between the two sides over the years.

“I love IndyCar racing. The fans love IndyCar racing,” he told The Dallas Morning News this weekend. “Finally, after 17 years, we were told how important we are after being told how unimportant we are repeatedly by every [IndyCar] administration since 1997. I’m excited about this.”

Here’s your current Top 10 in the IndyCar standings following the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit weekend:

1. 3-Helio Castroneves, Team Penske/Chevrolet – 206 points
25-Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport/Chevrolet – 206 points
3. 1-Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport/Chevrolet, -15
4. 9-Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing/Honda, -20
5. 77-Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports/Honda, -29
6. 14-Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Racing/Honda, -31
7. 19-Justin Wilson, Dale Coyne Racing/Honda, -37
8. 11-Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology/Chevrolet, -46
9. 27-James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport/Chevrolet, -52
10. 83-Charlie Kimball, Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing/Honda, -57

Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.