IndyCar: Helio Castroneves crashes out of Houston Race 2 (VIDEO)

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Helio Castroneves’ bid to win today’s Race 2 of the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston has ended with a crash on Lap 49.

One lap after ceding the lead to Simon Pagenaud off of a restart, Castroneves was running on the inside heading into Turn 6. He then moved to the outside to begin braking into the left-hander but made contact with Sebastien Bourdais and went into the wall as the Frenchman kept going.

In comments to NBCSN, Castroneves appeared to put the blame on Bourdais.

“When I lost the lead with [Pagenaud], I was actually trying to attack him – and I was attacking him, trying to pass him,” he said. “I’m just trying to pass and I see I would be running out of room, so I come back to try and do [the corner], and I had no idea he was there.

“When I’m attacking, I can’t have my eyes in the back. So, it’s absolutely ridiculous why the guy has to put the car over there. It’s the rules of traffic – the guy that hits the guy in the back is always wrong. You’ve got to take care of it.”

“…It’s just a shame that unfortunately, you have drivers like that that do not use common sense, and that’s what we need to have. But it is what it is. It’s always going to have ups and downs.”

The crash ensures another poor result in Houston for Castroneves. Last year, he suffered Houston finishes of 18th in Race 1 and 23rd in Race 2, which caused his 49-point lead in the championship to turn into a 25-point deficit to Scott Dixon; Dixon would clinch the 2013 title in the season finale two weeks later.

It also opens the door for Castroneves’ teammate, Will Power, to build upon his current 33-point lead over Castroneves in this year’s championship.

Bourdais sustained a damaged front wing in the incident with Castroneves, but did not have it changed when he pitted under green at Lap 63. One lap later at Lap 64, the race went under caution after Josef Newgarden came to a stop in Turn 4.

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.”