Title anniversaries for Fittipaldi, Andretti this Tuesday

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Today, September 10, marks two Formula One World Championship anniversaries at Monza from the 1970s. Emerson Fittipaldi (1972, pictured at Monaco) and Mario Andretti (1978) each clinched their first World Championships on this day all those years ago.

Fittipaldi’s win in the 1972 Italian Grand Prix secured the title for Lotus with two races remaining in the season. It was a modified Monza circuit, chicanes appearing for the first time after the 1971 race.

“Emmo” became the youngest World Champion at age 25 and 273 days, a mark that stood for more than 30 years. However, since Fernando Alonso usurped that title in 2005, that’s been beaten twice, by Lewis Hamilton in 2008 and by three-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel in 2010. Fittipaldi won a second championship for McLaren in 1974.

Andretti, meanwhile, who served as a guest analyst for NBCSN’s coverage of the Italian Grand Prix this weekend, took his first and only title under somber circumstances in the 1978 Italian Grand Prix. Andretti’s Lotus teammate, Ronnie Peterson, was caught up in an accident past the start line and died from complications after surgery.

The fatality ensured Andretti had enough of a gap the final two races of the 1978 season to where he was not overtaken. It was the second and thus far most recent World Championship by an American driver (Phil Hill, 1961) in F1 history.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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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.”