TUSC: Teams still needing to fill seats

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Hard to believe but there’s only a little more than a week until the Roar Before the 24 test for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

Here’s a rundown of full-season teams (not alternate entries) yet to announce any of its drivers for the 2014 season:

P

  • OAK Racing (No. 42 Morgan Nissan)
  • SpeedSource (Nos. 07, 70 Lola Mazda Coupe)
  • Highway to Help (No. 50 Dinan Riley DP);  NAEC-only

PC

  • 8Star Motorsports (No. 25)
  • Performance Tech Motorsports (No. 38)
  • PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports (No. 52)
  • CORE autosport (No. 54)
  • BAR1 Motorsports (Nos. 87, 88)
  • Level 5 Motorsports (Nos. 551, 552)

GTLM

  • Risi Competizione (No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia)
  • SRT Motorsports (Nos. 91, 93 SRT Viper GTS-R)
  • Krohn Racing (No. 57 Ferrari F458 Italia); NAEC-only
  • Aston Martin Racing (No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage); NAEC-only

GTD

  • Muehlner Motorsports America (Nos. 18, 19 Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Dempsey Racing (Nos. 27, 28 Porsche 911 GT America)
  • GMG Racing (No. 32 Audi R8)
  • Flying Lizard Motorsports (Nos. 35, 45 Audi R8)
  • Paul Miller Racing (No. 48 Audi R8)
  • Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports/JDX (No. 58 Porsche 911 GT America)
  • Spirit of Race (Nos. 49, 51 Ferrari 458); NAEC-only

NOTES

Formal announcements of team principals and/or family team members Jon Bennett (CORE), Scott Tucker (Level 5), Tracy Krohn (Krohn), Patrick Dempsey (Dempsey), James Sofronas (GMG), Bryce Miller (Paul Miller) and Madison Snow (Snow/Wright/JDX) are basically formalities; they just are yet to be officially revealed alongside their respective co-drivers.

Most of the other driver/team confirmations should be revealed over the next week to two weeks with the Roar, and a majority should be close to carry-overs from their 2013 lineups in either the American Le Mans Series or GRAND-AM Rolex Series.

Here’s a list of confirmed drivers and teams thus far, and there have been a couple other additions since that posting.

Helio Castroneves: ‘I have nothing to lose’ Sunday in bid for 4th Indy 500 win

All photos: IndyCar
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You might say Helio Castroneves comes into Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 with a “less is more” philosophy than he’s had in years past:

* No pressure

* No worrying about points

* No worrying about winning a championship

Take away all those things and the very popular Brazilian driver could be in the best position he’s ever been to achieve the biggest goal of his career:

Winning a fourth Indy 500, making him a member of motor racing’s most exclusive club, joining legendary drivers A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only drivers to conquer the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway four times each.

Like his car number, Castroneves has won the Indy 500 three times. He wants to change that number to four times in Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. Photo: IndyCar.

“For sure, I definitely don’t have much to lose in terms of points, championships, and things like that,” Castroneves told MotorSportsTalk earlier this week. “I don’t have to think that I don’t have a car to win, I’m not going to risk that much because there are still championship points (to earn if he was still racing full-time in the series).

“Not that I did that before, but if the situation occurs, people just need to know I have nothing to lose this time.”

Castroneves three prior triumphs in the 500 came in his first two years in the field – 2001 and 2002 – and again in 2009. In addition, he has finished twice in the last four editions of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing in 2014 and 2017.

Coming so close last year, losing to Takuma Sato by .201 of a second, is something Castroneves hasn’t forgotten about. To come so close to No. 4 has only made him more hungry to get it done on Sunday.

“Yeah, but if it were easy, we would likely have had more than four wins by now,” he said. “We’ve had opportunities in the past, the last four years we were really competitive, we were right there, especially in ’14 and ’17, we were right on it.

“Last year, I thought it was going to be the hardest 500 for me and look what happened: we were battling to the end for a victory,” Castroneves said. “It’s not just about trying hard, it’s about being there at the right place at the right time.

“And this place, Indianapolis, I’ve always said the track winds up choosing who is going to be the winner. Hopefully, with safety and luck, we’ll be part of it and be on the right side.”

Team owner Roger Penske decided after last season to put Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya as the chief drivers of Team Penske’s new two-car effort in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship sports car series.

When the announcement was first made, many feared that Castroneves had run out of chances to get that elusive No. 4 at Indy.

But Penske sweetened the deal for Helio to go sports car racing by promising he’d field a car for him at Indy. And Penske has proven to be a man of his word, giving Castroneves everything he needs to finally win No. 4.

“I feel we’ve prepared as much as a team, we’re doing everything possible in relation to preparation,” Castroneves said. “The preparation we had in the previous year helps us tremendously to give us an opportunity fighting there for a win, and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Castroneves has taken to the new style Indy car with aplomb. During the first week of practice leading up to last weekend’s qualifying, he was consistently one of the fastest drivers in the field.

The 43-year-old even topped the speed charts in the Fast Nine last Saturday before ending up eighth in the following day’s pole qualifying.

As a result, he’ll start Sunday’s race from the middle of Row 3, anchoring Team Penske’s four-man Top 8 starting lineup effort in the 500. When the green flag drops, to his left will be Danica Patrick and to his right will be four-time IndyCar champ and former 500 winner Scott Dixon.

And millions of others right behind him, so to speak.

“I feel the sense that everyone wants it to happen,” he said of winning No. 4. “We’re talking about being part of history here. The last guy to do it was Rick Mears in the ‘90s (1991).

“I mean, how cool would that be if I would be in the position and to see No. 4 in my era. I hear a lot of the fans, even those supporting different drivers, all saying ‘Man, I want to see you win No. 4.’ That just shows how special this place is.

“(The Indy 500) is part of a lot of people’s lives. I just would be very fortunate to hopefully to have this generation see someone do No. 4.”

While he’d rather not think about missing out on a fourth win at Indy for a ninth straight year, Castroneves is using reverse psychology somewhat.

He’s going into Sunday’s biggest race in the world fully believing he will finally win No. 4.

And if he does, forget the idea that he would never come back to race at Indy again.

“Not at all. Why? You’re so close to getting four, and then when you get four, you stop it? It doesn’t make sense.

“I think I still have at least four or five more years, there’s no question about it. As long as Roger (Penske) gives me the opportunity, I’m going to be going for it, for sure.”

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