Helio Castroneves open to taking a crack at NASCAR


It’s probably not going to happen anytime soon, but IZOD IndyCar Series co-points leader Helio Castroneves appears open to trying his hand at NASCAR one day in the future.

Castroneves, the three-time Indianapolis 500 champion, does have a bit of experience in racing with a roof over his head. He made 16 starts from 2002 to 2005 in the now-defunct International Race of Champions, which saw its competitors drive identically-prepared cars.

At the time Castroneves raced in IROC, NASCAR drivers usually made up the majority of the grid and the series was racing primarily on ovals. Naturally, the Brazilian’s best IROC finish came at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he finished second in 2002 behind former Sprint Cup standout Dale Jarrett.

“If there is an opportunity, yes, but I would like to try the car first,” Castroneves said on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “I remember talking to Rick Mears a long time ago and asked about different series, and he said you should try before you just make a decision.

“The closest that I got [to NASCAR] was in the IROC [series] and I loved it. It was actually a lot of fun and very difficult, but a lot of fun. If the opportunity presents itself then certainly would love to try, but right now, I only have one thing on my mind and that is trying to win as much races as possible here [in IndyCar] and hopefully bring this championship to [team owner] Roger [Penske].”

His boss can certainly provide a sample of stock car racing for Castroneves if and when he’d like to try it. In addition to their IndyCar program, Penske runs squads in NASCAR’s top two categories, Sprint Cup and Nationwide.

Also, should Castroneves want extra advice on the matter, he could certainly pick the brain of his former open-wheel teammate, three-time IndyCar champ Sam Hornish Jr. – who currently drives one of Penske’s NNS rides. After an Indy 500 win in 2006 and those aforementioned championships, Hornish flipped to a full-time stock car career in 2008. He’s currently second in the NNS standings.

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.