Indy Lights: Dixon, Hinch to test new car; Belardi confirms 2 for 2015

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Two bits of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires news came through on Friday that we neglected to hit at that point, so here they are:

DIXON, HINCH GET NEW CAR TEST

While youngsters Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly are the primary testers of the new Dallara IL-15 Indy Lights chassis, and both of them have already sampled the new car to this point, two Verizon IndyCar Series veterans will also have the chance to drive it next month.

Both Scott Dixon and James Hinchcliffe – each is an Indy Lights veteran and Dixon is a past Indy Lights champion – will test the car on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Sept. 5-6.

“I’m excited to see the new car and the direction the series is taking,” said Dixon. “It’s a very important stepping-stone on the road to the Verizon IndyCar Series. I look forward to driving the new car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and hope to help with the ongoing development.”

Added Hinchcliffe, “It is always fun being part of something new, and helping to develop this race car is a cool opportunity so I was excited when I got the call from T.C. to be a part of it. I am a big believer in the Lights series; racing in Indy Lights made me the driver I am and prepared me to step up to the Verizon IndyCar Series. I think this new car is a big step in revitalizing the series. Being in on the ground level and helping to push the series in this direction is something I am looking forward to.”

BELARDI OFFICIALLY SIGNS UP FOR 2015

To clarify a post from earlier this week, the 8Star Motorsports to Indy Lights announcement was a notice of the team’s intentions to enter the championship. However, Belardi Auto Racing has confirmed it has placed deposits on two new chassis for 2015, and thus Brian Belardi’s squad will be present for the new season.

“I’m extremely pleased with what Dan Andersen has accomplished in providing stability for the Mazda Road to Indy, but he’s also been aggressive in moving Indy Lights into the future, and we’re behind him 100%,” Belardi said in a team release. “I also have great faith in Dallara and the recent results of the new car testing have been phenomenal. I attended the test at Mid-Ohio and was happy to see the car’s anticipated performance levels be confirmed on-track. I’m thrilled for next year and I’m excited knowing that we’ll have two cars on the grid, and possibly more.”

Belardi has run points leader Gabby Chaves the full season, while alternating Alex Baron and Axcil Jefferies in the second car throughout 2014.

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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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.”