ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 additional pre-race news, notes, quotes

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MILWAUKEE – Here are a few additional news, notes and quotes ahead of today’s ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers:

  • While happy with pole position and leading each of the first three on-track sessions thus far, Josef Newgarden expects the race to be a tougher challenge. He said the tire dropoff is better than last year and expects the race to be less over a stint.
  • Ryan Briscoe said Schmidt Peterson has had much better qualifying cars than what he’s delivered, before today. “I didn’t do a good job of qualifying Texas or Fontana. I wouldn’t put that down to the team; it was me not doing the best job,” Briscoe told MotorSportsTalk.
  • Briscoe’s best start prior to today had been 16th in Fontana and teammate James Jakes hadn’t bettered 10th (Detroit race one) either.
  • Sage Karam’s start of third is a career best; it had been 10th on two occasions prior to today.
  • Sebastien Bourdais said bottoming out was a problem. “Truthfully we’re hitting the ground so hard we have no idea what the car is capable of or should have done. When wheels don’t touch when we’re bottoming, everything bottoms out. It’s the worst that can happen to you. It’s weird. I’ve no idea what’s going on. Picked up 20 degrees from this morning. 80 and now it’s 110. It doesn’t take a lot to take a little bit and have the car turn into a piece of evil crap,” he told MotorSportsTalk.
  • Not only is this Scott Dixon’s 250th career start, but it’s also the 50-year anniversary of A.J. Foyt’s incredible pole-winning run for the Tony Bettenhausen 200 in August 1965! He turned the pole speed of 107.881 mph in the Sheraton-Thompson Meskowski/Offy, i.e. an upright dirt car against a field of low-slung rear-engine cars! The next closest upright car started in row 10—Bobby Unser in Gordon Van Liew’s Vita Fresh Orange Juice No. 88.
  • Temperatures increased quite a bit from the morning to the afternoon. The morning began with ambient temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 on track, but by qualifying temps were 81 and 115, respectively, per Firestone.
  • Crowds have been decent through the morning hours, perhaps better than anticipated for the primarily one-day event. The late start time of 4:30 p.m. CT, however, may not be the best for out-of-state attendees. It’s the last year of two in a two-year contract for race title sponsor ABC Supply Co., so the crowd is going to be important to watch.

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.”