Straight No Chaser to sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” at 2015 Indy 500 (VIDEO)

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has tabbed big-name a cappella singing group Straight No Chaser to carry on one of the Indianapolis 500’s greatest traditions.

The pre-race singing of “Back Home Again in Indiana” is a cherished moment for the ‘500’ faithful, and for 35 times since 1972, that honor went to entertainer Jim Nabors. But citing health reasons, the 84-year-old Nabors gave his final “500” performance this past May.

Today, the Speedway announced that SNC, which was founded in 1996 at Indiana University, will sing the song next May.

“One of the most cherished traditions each year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the singing of ‘(Back Home Again in) Indiana’ and we are pleased that Straight No Chaser will join us next May to perform as we lead up to the start of the 99th Indianapolis 500,” IMS president J. Douglas Boles said in a statement.

“Our fans have offered us many suggestions for who and how the song should be performed in 2015 and having a group with a national following, strong Indiana roots and a true understanding of the importance of this moment make them a great fit for next year’s race!”

Thanks in large part to YouTube postings of their performances (which have gathered more than 60 million views on the social media service), SNC’s profile has grown tremendously in recent years.

One of the group’s most recent offerings, a collaboration with actress Kristen Bell called “Text Me Merry Christmas,” has already garnered five million YouTube views and was performed earlier this month on NBC’s Today show. The group is also taking part in an ongoing 58-city, 66-show tour.

As all 10 members of the current professional group are IU alums, you would figure they’re certainly experienced with “Back Home Again in Indiana.” And you’d be right. Here’s a clip of their 1998 performance of that song:

Something tells us they’ll be received warmly at the Brickyard.

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.”