Report: Chris Berube reflects on tenure with Chevrolet’s IndyCar program

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It was announced last week that Chris Berube, the program manager who helped spearhead Chevrolet’s return to IndyCar in 2012, would be transferred to a different part of Chevrolet’s operation.

A year after Chevrolet finished 1-2-3 in the IndyCar point standings and 1-2-3-4 in the Indianapolis 500, Berube will now work out of General Motors’ Milford Proving Grounds in Michigan where he’s been named the engineering group manager for the test engineering & systems for the Global Vehicle Dynamics Center.

Since 2012, Chevrolet has won three manufacturer’s titles in IndyCar and the last two championships, with Scott Dixon and Will Power.

Berube was part of a lengthy Q&A with Motorsport.com.

Here’s a couple of interesting items from the interview.

On Chevrolet engine changes being pre-emptive while Honda engines don’t have a history of failing.

“Reliability is an ultimate priority for us, and so knowing our product is essential. Failures on track were really not allowed! So this year’s repair after St. Pete was because we didn’t think the engine would make it for their specified mileage [2500 miles in 2015]. We had to do something about it and so we sucked up the points penalty for repairing the engines ahead of schedule. That was tough, because you really don’t want to start the season on minus points!

“I don’t want to comment on HPD policy, but yes, we know our product well, examine engines very carefully as they progress through their mileage life. We weren’t perfect, we had engines fail, but I think we’re strong at figuring out what the issue was, understanding it, engineering a fix and then implementing that fix.”

On difference between Honda and Chevy’s ability to tailor engine throttle response and torque curves to a driver’s style.

“We didn’t set ourselves a certain number of variables, but we knew what the engine would allow reliably, and allowing variations that take the engine outside the reliability range was never going to be our policy.

“What I’d say is that it’s a constant negotiation process with each driver as to what they think they’re not getting that they feel they need. Depending on circumstances, you might feel OK to take a risk but the majority of the time, we preferred to work it out with the drivers, give them something they could win with, without putting the engine into the areas of risk.”

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.”