Reports: Pocono extension is ’50-50;’ Honda, Chevrolet both closer to renewal

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Extensions for Honda and Chevrolet appear close, while an extension for Pocono Raceway with the Verizon IndyCar Series remains a toss-up, per a pair of reports out on Saturday.

First up from FOX Sports’ Bruce Martin is word that not only Honda – whose extension talks have been a hot topic all year – but also Chevrolet appear close to dual five-year extensions with INDYCAR (sanctioning body).

INDYCAR’s outgoing president of competition and operations Derrick Walker said his boss, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, will need to review a request by Honda for INDYCAR to enact Rule 9.3, which allows for updates to a manufacturer aero kit for competitive purposes.

That request, as well as Honda’s status, are likely to be determined after the end of the season. Honda’s contract with INDYCAR expires on Sept. 13; Walker’s expires the Monday after Sonoma on August 31.

Another extension talk is with Pocono Raceway itself, where the series competes this weekend for the ABC Supply 500, the second-to-last race of the season.

Track president Brandon Igdalsky told the Associated Press’ Dan Gelston that the odds are an even “50-50” that the track will return to the IndyCar schedule in 2016.

In his latest comments to the IMS Radio Network earlier today, Miles did not mention Pocono explicitly by venue.

In terms of importance, getting Honda to re-sign is higher on the priority list for INDYCAR than is retaining Pocono. Not that Pocono isn’t important, but it’s easier to replace a venue than it is a manufacturer.

And from what Honda provides, not just from a competition but also an activation standpoint, they bring far more to the series than just engines and aero kits.

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.”