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Herta, Andretti merge for fourth car in 2016 IndyCar season

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Bryan Herta Autosport and Andretti Autosport have announced a partnership whereby Herta’s No. 98 Honda will be the fourth Andretti Autosport full-season car in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Herta himself will remain involved as he takes to the timing stand, filling the role of race strategist for the No. 98 and overall team driver coach. The team’s fourth full-season driver will be announced at a later date.

The move ends an offseason of uncertainty for BHA, which reportedly has had some behind-the-scenes issues trying to raise the necessary funds to keep the single-car entry on the grid this year.

It’s left Gabby Chaves, last year’s series and Indianapolis 500 rookie-of-the-year, in a waiting game to see the situation. Per RACER.com’s Robin Miller, despite Chaves’ undoubted promise, he won’t be retained.

However, Herta also told Miller that his 12 crew will be retained and the team’s shop will remain open for its Red Bull Global Rallycross program.

It also ensures at least a 21-car grid for the full season, with this car now confirmed alongside the three other Andretti Autosport entries, Carlos Munoz, Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Yes, it’s down slightly from 2015 but it keeps the field from losing another entry.

Andretti and Herta have a past history, Herta having driven for Andretti’s team from 2003 to 2006 in IndyCar and then again in the American Le Mans Series in 2007.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this new chapeter for Bryan Herta Autosport,” Herta said. “Michael has been a long-time friend, and we certainly know that Andretti Autosport was a big part of my career. When the opportunity came together for us to strengthen our organization and merge with one of the most successful teams and names in the sport, it was really a no brainer. I’m especially proud that what we’ve built with all the employees of BHA will remain intact and become part of the fabric of Andretti Autosport.”

“Bryan is a long-time friend and I was happy to watch him build a successful Indy car team,” Andretti added. “Bringing Bryan and his crew into the family is a great opportunity for all parties to build an even stronger organization. Having Bryan’s experience is a welcome addition to the team. I’m honored to be able to carry on what he started and look forward to a competitive season.”

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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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.”