Luhr on IndyCar: “If it was easy, everyone would do it”

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Lucas Luhr is, statistically, the most successful driver in American Le Mans Series history with 46 career wins. The German is an exciting and welcome addition to the IZOD IndyCar Series for next week’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, and he already has outlined his respect for IndyCar after his first test at the track earlier this week in the No. 97 RW/SFHR Honda.

“It’s not going to be easy, especially because all the other drivers have been driving these cars for the entire season,” Luhr said in a Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team Q&A. “Coming in as the new guy is not going to be easy, but that’s why I’m doing it. If it was easy everyone would do it.”

Luhr has a versatile sports car background, having driven Audis, Porsches, Aston Martins and now the current Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03c in the ALMS P1 and P2 categories. So he’s got experience with high-downforce, high-powered prototypes, and now will work to get used to the Dallara DW12 IndyCar with Honda power.

“To get used to the car will be the most challenging part,” Luhr said. “The way it responds to my action and learning to understand the car, technically and also from a driving point of view. Learning what I need to do to make the car work and to make the tires work.”

He’s had interest in IndyCar dating to when he drove with Roger Penske’s factory-supported Porsche RS Spyder P2 team in the ALMS.

“It’s very simple. When I drove for Roger Penske with the Prototype sports car program he invited me one year to see the Indy 500 and that really made me interested in the series,” Luhr said. “There’s been a few times where ALMS and IndyCar race during the same weekend, so I followed it and would stay an extra day to watch the race. I just like the way American racing has been done. I was always interested in it and followed it, but on the other hand I never really pushed to get in it or have a chance at trying it. Now that this opportunity is here, it’s even better! I’m very excited and am looking forward to it like a little child at Christmas Eve.”

We can’t wait to see him open his presents on an actual race weekend this time next weekend.

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.”