Castroneves confident of challenging for win at Mid-Ohio

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Helio Castroneves remains confident of challenging for his first victory of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season in this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

The Penske no. 3 driver is winless in 2015 and his record at the road course leaves much to be desired.

Despite winning twice there in CART, Castroneves’ has just one top ten finish in the past four events with an average finishing position of 15th.

Nevertheless, the Brazilian remains upbeat as he heads into the final three races of the 2015 season with an outside chance of catching championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya.

“The Hitachi Chevy team has been very consistent this year and that has us in a decent position in the point standings,” Castroneves said.

“Juan Pablo is going to be tough to catch if he doesn’t have another bad race, so we need to really turn up our performance over these last three.

“Mid-Ohio was a place that was good to me early in my career, but we haven’t had those kind of results lately. I enjoy the challenge of the track. It’s a technical place that suits how I like to attack a road course circuit.

“We’ve run well at times this year on the road courses, so I’m confident in our ability to challenge for the win this weekend.”

Castroneves has recorded nine top ten finishes in 13 races in 2015 with five podiums, but is still without a victory. Although Mid-Ohio appears to offer his worst possible chance to break his duck, the Brazilian will still be gunning to keep his hopes of a first IndyCar title alive as the embers of the season begin to burn out.

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.”