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IndyCar’s Hinchcliffe, Daly, Newgarden invade NBA all-star game

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While NASCAR ran an all-star event to kickoff Daytona 500 festivities, IndyCar drivers James Hinchcliffe, Conor Daly, and Josef Newgarden headed to Canada to attend the NBA all-star game in Toronto, Ontario. And they took to social media to share their excitement.

This was the first time an NBA all-star game was held outside of the United States, which was of particular interest to Canada’s Hinchcliffe.

As the skills contest began, Hinchliffe wondered if IndyCar should have their own all-star competition.

The responses were mixed with nearly as many fans replying to his tweet affirmatively. As those tweets rolled in, Hinchcliffe turned his attention back to basketball when the dunking competition began. It did not take long for him to recognize the skills of the NBA players. Hinchcliffe tweeted, “This dunk contest is actually insane!! I am out of words to describe this!!”

Newgarden was just as excited about attending the all-star event and added his IndyCar perspective.

First thing I thought, catching an Uber to Air Canada Centre for NBA All-Star Saturday night, is that I’m driving through downtown Toronto near our race track. Except it’s a lot colder here today (70 degrees colder) than when the Verizon IndyCar Series races here in the Honda Indy Toronto in July, and we’re moving a lot slower on the city streets than I’m used to — about 110 mph slower since we could only go about 20 through a traffic jam,” Newgarden reported in his blog for USA Today.

The NBA all-star game was a contest between the Western conference versus the East, but Hinchliffe and Daly managed to turn the weekend into a border war by focusing on the Celebrity Game Presented by Mountain Dew. American driver Daly was behind Team USA with Hinchcliffe supporting his home team.

Hinchcliffe provided his reasons why Canada would win. Daly disagreed.

Hinchliffe was correct.

After Canada won the celebrity game on Friday night, the attention turned serious with both the West and East putting up amazing numbers. The Western conference recorded the victory with a score of 196 over 173.

As the NBA settles back into regulation play, Hinchliffe, Daly, and Newgarden await the start of the IndyCar season, which begins with the March 13th running of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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.”