Rodolfo Gonzalez gives Dale Coyne Racing a team first in 2015

3 Comments

At Dale Coyne Racing, there’s been a revolving door of drivers for both of its teams in the No. 18 and No. 19 Honda’s.

The No. 19 has been piloted by three different drivers through 10 races. Francesco Dracone in the first five, then James Davison in the Indianapolis 500 and Tristan Vautier has been in the cockpit in the four races that followed.

It’s been worse in the No. 18. Five different drivers have taken sporadic turns in the the entry, starting with Carlos Huertas and ending with Rodolfo Gonzalez. Sunday in the Honda Indy Toronto, the Venezuelan driver drove the No. 18 car for the fourth time this season.

While his 18th-place finish doesn’t look like much, Gonzalez can leave Toronto knowing he gave DCR something none of the other seven drivers have: laps led.

Thanks to pit strategy that kept him out during the race’s first caution flag, late in the race Gonzalez found himself leading. The No. 18 was in the top position for five laps around the 11-turn, 1.755-mile street-course.

Too bad no one took the time to tell him.

“It is funny, I didn’t even know I was leading there at the end with (Josef) Newgarden,” Gonzalez said. “I was told I was leading all those laps after I got out of the car. I was just driving my race and knew I had a black car behind me. I thought maybe it was Gabby Chaves because we had been racing together earlier in the race. At one point, I was asking myself, ‘Why do I keep getting Penske cars behind me?'”

Gonzalez was able to stay ahead of eventual race winner Josef Newgarden until he had to pit for fuel.

“I think we took a big risk on our strategy and, in the end, it didn’t pay off because we got that second caution so quickly and it screwed us up a little bit,” said Gonzalez. “It was certainly fun. It is only my (fourth) race and to be spending any time leading is great.”

Sunday was only the second race Gonzalez has been able to finish of the four he’s been in. He was unable to finish either of the Detroit dual races.

Dale Coyne Racing is now no longer on the short list of full-season teams that have not led laps in 2015. That list is now down to one with Bryan Herta Autosport, which fields Chaves.

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
Leave a comment

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.”