On eve of 300th IndyCar start, Helio Castroneves eyes record-tying fourth Indy 500 win

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Helio Castroneves hopes to enjoy the appetizer this weekend and then sink his teeth into the main course two weeks later.

The appetizer for the veteran racer will be to make his 300th career start in the IndyCar Series in this Saturday’s second-annual Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

“What a special moment for me to wake up every day and to do 300 times something that I love,” Castroneves said in a media teleconference. “And for me, it’s fantastic. It’s a blessing. … I’m one of those persons that is very fortunate to be able to keep doing with the same enthusiasm that I had in the past when it was the first time.

“So the 300th, it probably feels like just my first time. And I’m very excited about that. And hopefully the result will be a celebration so that we can make part of history as well.”

Ironically, the Brazilian native turns 40 years old the following day, Sunday, May 10. He has 29 career wins between the CART and IndyCar series, 83 combined podium finishes and 44 combined poles.

“It’s just like wine, you know, getting better with age,” he said with a laugh. “I’m excited. We’re not going to be on the track, we’re going to be off the track. But hopefully I’ll get my present on Saturday, on the 9th.”

source: AP
Helio Castroneves after this past Sunday’s first day of practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (AP photo)

After he makes his 300th start and celebrates his birthday, Castroneves will then begin the main course: his pursuit of a fourth career Indianapolis 500 championship on May 24.

If he wins that race, Castroneves — who has won the 500 in 2001, 2002 and 2009 — will join Rick Mears, AJ Foyt and Al Unser as the only four-time winners of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

“It’s a matter of putting everything together,” Castroneves said. “Every time you come over here, it’s not about thinking the number of how many you won. It’s the matter of executing. Last year was super close — too close, and obviously we did everything during the month of May to put ourselves in that position.

“But I don’t think that, oh, that’s it, I’ve got to win four. You know, I’ve got to win, and no matter if it’s the Indy Grand Prix or the Indianapolis 500 or the championship, I want to go out there and give my best.

“Obviously it’s the Indianapolis 500, and if you give yourself a small moment to think about a fourth, what a great, incredible moment would it be being part of history. I do believe, and the fans are witness of that, so many people come to me and say, ‘Man, I want to see you win four, you know.’

“And that’s the beauty of it, when you have these type of people that are young, now it’s even teenager or older, ‘I saw your first win and I want to see you win four.’ So those things motivate me to go out there and give extra. (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) is automatic, it brings the best out of me. So I’m super excited to have this aero kit because it’s kind of reset everyone, and hopefully with that and the extra motivation, we’re going to make it happen.”

To hear Castroneves, especially with him turning 40 in a few days, if he doesn’t get his fourth Indy 500 win this year, he’s going to keep coming back year after year until he does.

It’s not a matter of if he’ll win No. 4, but when he’ll do it. To him, it’s almost inevitable.

“If I don’t win a fourth? Well, then we come back next year,” he said. “We never think it’s not going to happen. I always dream big, and I do believe big dreams come true.”

And Castroneves is giving himself at least 14 more years to become a member of that exclusive four-500 victory club – or maybe start a new club with a fifth or more win in the late May classic.

“It’s not about age for me,” he said. “Age is just a number. If you’re thinking about the past, drivers and special legends, they used to race until what, 54? Mario (Andretti), what was his last race?

I still have 14 more years. That’s my point, as long as you’re competitive, as long as you’re giving your heart effort, the results shouldn’t change.”

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IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

With the 10-hour race requiring an extra driver, several stars from other racing series have been added. In addition to Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay will serve as third drivers in Chip Ganassi Racing’s pair of Cadillacs.

Jimmie Johnson also will be making his last DPi start in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac with Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi. Petit Le Mans could mark the last start in an IMSA prototype for Johnson, who has said limited inventory likely will keep him out of the GTP category in the Rolex 24 next year.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):


Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta


Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans