IndyCar penalizes Honda, teams, drivers for unapproved engine changes prior to Indy 500

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Officials of the Verizon IndyCar Series on Wednesday afternoon announced a number of penalties (but no monetary fines) to Honda as a manufacturer, as well as several Honda drivers and team owners for unapproved engine changes prior to the Indianapolis 500.

Here’s the official statement from IndyCar:

INDYCAR announced today that Honda has been penalized a total of 50 Engine Manufacturer Championship points per Verizon IndyCar Series rules for violation of Rule 16.5.1 (engine change under mileage).

Honda engines were changed out in the Nos. 14 (Takuma Sato/A.J. Foyt Racing), 15 (Graham Rahal/Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), 19 (Justin Wilson/Dale Coyne Racing), 27 (James Hinchcliffe/Andretti Autosport) and 34 Carlos Munoz/Andretti Autosport) entries. Each occurrence is a 10-point penalty incurred by the manufacturer.

Also, engine changes in the No. 5 (Jacques Villeneuve/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports), No. 16 (Oriol Servia/Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), No. 41 (Martin Plowman/A.J. Foyt Racing) and No. 68 (Alex Tagliani/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing) cars violated Rule 16.5.1 (entrant initiated engine change under mileage).

Each entrant and driver has been assessed a 10-point penalty, according to Verizon IndyCar Series rules.

Members may contest the imposition of the penalty pursuant to the procedures and timelines detailed in the review and appeal procedures of the Verizon IndyCar Series rulebook.

Honda powered 19 cars in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, including race-winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and others such as Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Kurt Busch, Josef Newgarden, Marco Andretti, Pippa Mann, Carlos Huerta, Simon Pagenaud and Mikhail Aleshin.

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

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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.”