IndyCar’s movers and shakers out of Milwaukee, heading to Iowa

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The IZOD IndyCar Series’ manic stretch of five races in four weekends after the month of May concludes at the Iowa Speedway this Sunday.

Some stats of note leaving Milwaukee and entering Iowa for the Iowa Corn Indy 250:

  • In the last four races, the gloves have come off between Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves. They each have a win and have smoked the field from a points standpoint; Castroneves holds a 147-145 edge over Hunter-Reay, with Dario Franchitti having scored the third most points at just 111. Simon Pagenaud (104) is the only other driver in the field in this stretch of diverse races with more than 100 points.
  • Unsurprisingly, Hunter-Reay and Castroneves have also scored the most points on ovals this year. Hunter-Reay has secured 136 points to Castroneves’ 129; Tony Kanaan is the only other driver (110) over 100. Marco Andretti is next on 88 points, with Ed Carpenter on 86 and Will Power on 85.
  • E.J. Viso kept his qualifying hot streak alive with his sixth straight top-five grid position in Milwaukee. He followed that up with his first top-five finish of the season. His only career podium came in Iowa in 2010, a third-place result.
  • After his frustrating ending to a dominant weekend in Milwaukee, Marco Andretti heads to undoubtedly his best track on the schedule in the cornfields of Iowa. In six prior starts, Andretti leads the field with four podium finishes, and a win there in 2011. He’s led only 87 laps at the track though, which trails four other current drivers.
  • Alex Tagliani hasn’t scored a top-10 finish for the Barracuda Racing/BHA squad since St. Petersburg, and Dragon Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais hasn’t scored one all season. They’re due.
  • Following the form of bad race-top 10-bad race, expect Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden to crack the top-10 this weekend. In all four even-numbered races this year, the series sophomore has ended there (ninth at Barber, fifth in Brazil, seventh at Detroit race one, eighth at Texas).

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.”