De Silvestro ends fourth after strategy gamble pays dividends for Andretti


AVONDALE, La. – Fourth place in her second straight one-off race made for a good result for Simona de Silvestro, driver of Andretti Autosport’s No. 25 Honda.

De Silvestro, who started 18th due to entrant points for Sunday’s Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana, was fourth among those on the alternate strategy call, thanks to a collaboration with her strategist Rob Edwards, the team’s director of race operations and engineering.

“In the the rain we were going pretty well, then we had a pretty good call there on the pits to come in and put the slicks on and the second stop was also a really good call,” she told NBCSN. “So I think that’s how we shuffled forward.

“From there on, I was able to pass TK (Tony Kanaan), so I feel really happy, for the team and myself, second race back to finish fourth and that’s not something we were expecting after the way the weekend started, but sometimes things fall your way and they did today and we’re really happy about it.”

She elaborated further on how she and Edwards could gamble on the strategy, as she last pitted on Lap 30.

“Because of where we were starting, we kind of knew we could gamble something,” she elaborated post-race. “We weren’t really strong the whole weekend, we didn’t have the pace to run up front and the conditions today really helped us.

“I really like these conditions when I have to figure out where things are going and it worked out really well.  On the one restart Filippi lost right in front of me and I got sent back a little bit and maybe that opened the window even more to come in the pits.”

This marked de Silvestro’s first rain race in more than two years.

“It’s hard to say, in the rain I thought it was OK,” she said of the conditions. “I think even for me getting back in a race car and driving in the rain.  I haven’t done that in over two years and I got more confident.  In the dry, the track wasn’t great, but it seemed OK and pretty quick.  It seemed like the tires were there right away on the restarts.”

Her fourth place was a needed tonic on a day when teammates Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti ended 12th and 13th, and Ryan Hunter-Reay ended with a wrecked car following his late-race contact with Simon Pagenaud and Sebastien Bourdais.

As of now, her next scheduled race is the Indianapolis 500 in the TE Connectivity-backed No. 29 Honda. But ideally this serves as a springboard for one or more of the three remaining races between now and then.

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.”