IndyCar notes: Planned tests, Coyne, Barracuda driver updates

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Not much going on in the IZOD IndyCar Series world until a manufacturer test at Sonoma next week in advance of the next round of the season. But there are a few tidbits of note:

  • Three teams – Chip Ganassi Racing, Team Penske and Panther Racing – were slated to test Wednesday. Ganassi planned Iowa while the latter two were set to test at Sebring. Ganassi’s current streak of four straight wins came after a Sebring test in late June. Details from the two power teams, and their drivers, were nonexistent. Meanwhile Panther had Oriol Servia on hand again at Sebring. The Catalan hasn’t been confirmed for any further races but is likely to split duties with Ryan Briscoe for the rest of the year. Briscoe is expected back at Sonoma for IndyCar and will likely resume his American Le Mans Series commitments with Level 5 Motorsports at Baltimore the following week.
  • Bryan Herta told Autosport’s Mark Glendenning that Luca Filippi is in the frame for further drives with the team later this season as Barracuda Racing continues evaluating its 2014 driver prospects. Additionally, Glendenning reported that Dale Coyne Racing may test unheralded Japanese driver Ryo Hirakawa, a 19-year-old who won the Japanese Formula 3 title last year. It’s been a while since Coyne has gone the “obscure as all get out second driver” route, so it’s good to see he still has that in him.
  • One of the drivers confirmed to make his debut for Coyne this year, Stefan Wilson, had his seat fitting at the Illinois shop earlier this week. The younger, but taller brother of Justin will make his debut at Baltimore.

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.”