Helio Castroneves to run throwback Pennzoil Penske livery in Indy 500

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Thirty years after Rick Mears won his second of four Indianapolis 500s in a Pennzoil car for Roger Penske, Penske’s current most successful driver at the ‘500 will pay homage to it at this year’s race.

Team Penske has announced Helio Castroneves, a three-time winner, will race in the No. 3 Pennzoil Dallara-Chevrolet at this year’s race. It’s a natural extension of the Shell/Pennzoil relationship the team enjoys and will see Castroneves’ No. 3 adorned in the yellow and red that Mears’ car carried.

The unveil occurred on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway plaza, with Mears’ 84 winner and Johnny Rutherford’s iconic 1980-winning Chaparral 2K flanking the new No. 3. To boot, Castroneves will wear a helmet similar to Mears’, only with “HELIO” adorned in all yellow caps on a red background rather than Mears.  Both Mears and Rutherford were in attendance, with their cars, at the unveil.

And I’ll say this: the car. Looks. Awesome.

“For me, it’s an inspiration. Right now, it’s an honor to be wearing the yellow color, not because of Dancing With the Stars but it helps,” Castroneves said. “But just to see this, what an honor having these guys around helping me out to unveil the car. I want to thank Pennzoil with the new product and I’m excited to be representing you guys. It sounds like it’s a good luck charm. I feel like a small fish in a big ocean right now with those two legends over here.

“At the end of the day, Penske has a great history here at the Speedway. I can’t wait to be sitting in that car at the beginning of practice after the Indianapolis GP and I can’t wait to go race with these colors. And a special thanks to Rick for allowing me to use the colors of his helmet. I’m extremely thankful and honored to be wearing not only the Pennzoil colors but Rick’s helmet colors, too.”

Castroneves’ No. 3 will be red and white for this weekend’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis, with a Verizon livery. All three Penske cars will be in Verizon colors this weekend.

NHRA: Dodge/Mopar to unveil new Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car today in Denver

Photos/video courtesy Dodge/Mopar
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If you’re a fan of NHRA Funny Car racing and Dodge/Mopar, you may notice something different at this weekend’s Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Denver, Colorado.

Two-time (2011 and 2014) NHRA Funny Car champ Matt Hagan – who has won the last two NHRA national events in the last four weeks – will be piloting a newly-designed 2019 Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a 10,000-horsepower Funny Car that makes its debut today at Dodge/Mopar’s premier NHRA national event.

The new Charger SRT Hellcat succeeds the former Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, which had been in use since 2015.

“We improved on the body design,” Hagan said of the new Charger Hellcat. “It was already a great design, a great body. But now, we’re going to have a little more downforce, a little more traction on these racetracks and it will be a huge performance advantage.”

The new Hellcat includes a number of innovations, including a new front splitter to increase downforce. Just like its predecessor, the R/T, the Hellcat will go head-to-head with Chevrolet’s Camaro in the NHRA Funny Car ranks.

“We will be able to press harder with more downforce on the nose, which translates into huge amounts of downforce on the run,” Hagan said.

According to a media release, the new Hellcat features major design changes in three key areas: the front end, bodysides and burst panel placement:

* “At the front, the shape of the nose has been tweaked and a new splitter (photo), built of carbon fiber and Kevlar like the rest of the Funny Car body, has been added. The splitter substantially mimics the look and shape of the production vehicle’s splitter while generating greater downforce to help plant the Funny Car to the track.

* “Bodyside scallops have been redesigned to more closely identify with the production Hellcat while also enhancing on-track function and performance. The deeper character lines provide greater visual ties to the street version of the Hellcat, while also helping to mitigate the “body burn” common on all Funny Cars due to the close positioning of the exhaust headers.

* “The location of the burst panel on the hood has also been reworked. The panel is now centered over the top of the engine to more efficiently release energy and pressure in the event of engine issues, a common occurrence in race cars that are pushed to the razor’s edge of performance.”

Since the R/T was first introduced into the Don Schumacher Racing corps, it has gone on to 50 wins, 42 runner-up finishes and 40 No. 1 qualifiers in NHRA national events and one NHRA Funny Car World Championship (Ron Capps, 2016).

The new Charger SRT Hellcat, which can exceed 330-plus mph and covers 1,000 feet in under four seconds, is the drag strip version of the supercharged, 707-horsepower production Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.

While Hagan will drive the first Hellcat, his other three Dodge-powered DSR teammates – Capps, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. – will soon take delivery of their own versions of the car over the remaining 11 races of the 2018 season.

One day after winning two weeks ago at Norwalk, Ohio, Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables put the new Hellcat through its paces with several test runs. The results were so strong that it was decided to debut the car at Denver and run all qualifying and elimination rounds with it.

“We made four good, solid runs in testing at Norwalk,” said Hagan. “We put the body through a lot of different things and were really, really pleased with it.

“I really think it’s going to translate over to performance on the race track, and hopefully more win lights in the future.”

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