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The September 17-18 weekend is glorious, nightmarish at same time


If you’re a fan of multiple types of racing, the September 17-18, 2016 weekend is going to be absolutely glorious.

And if you’re trying to cover said multiple types of racing, it might become an absolute nightmare.

Consider all four of NBC Sports Group’s motorsports properties all run that weekend – NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and Red Bull GRC.

Here’s the weekend breakdown for those four:

  • NASCAR: Sprint Cup: Chicago, Sept. 18 (Chase opener), Xfinity: Chicago, Sept. 17, Camping World Trucks: Chicago, Sept. 16
  • F1: Singapore Grand Prix, Sept. 18
  • IndyCar: Sonoma, Sept. 18
  • Red Bull GRC: Seattle, Sept. 17

Add in your associated practice and qualifying shows, plus NASCAR AMERICA, beyond the race broadcasts itself and you can already predict an overload of content.

NHRA is racing that weekend too, because of course it is, Sept. 16-18 at Charlotte.

It gets even better… or worse… when you add in the sports car components of that weekend.

The Lone Star Le Mans weekend at Circuit of The Americas, featuring the Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas for the FIA World Endurance Championship (its lone round in the U.S.) just two weeks after Mexico City and the full complement of IMSA series, headlined by the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, races occur Sept. 17.

Pirelli World Challenge is racing too, along with IndyCar for a doubleheader at Sonoma.

And for good measure, why not throw in the Blancpain GT Series as well, with one of their Endurance races at the Nürburgring that weekend.

So here’s these four broken down:

  • FIA WEC: COTA, Sept. 17
  • IMSA: WeatherTech Championship, COTA, Sept. 17 (plus Continental Tire SC, Lamborghini Blancpain ST)
  • PWC: Sonoma, Sept. 17-18
  • Blancpain GT: Nürburgring , Sept. 16-18

Here’s the thing: there’s only so many fans to go around, and it’s hard to think at least one if not more of these events won’t be negatively impacted by another event happening on the same weekend.

Or, if you want to go the couch potato route and watch all on your TV, your phone, your laptop or other mobile device, that’s a good option too.

But in terms of motorsports content that weekend, it all happens. And it is going to be mental.

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.”