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Castroneves ends IndyCar’s Phoenix test on top

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Helio Castroneves topped the timesheets in both the fourth and final three-hour test session and overall at the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Test in the West, a.k.a. “PrixView,” at Phoenix International Raceway.

Driving the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, Castroneves clocked in a best time of 19.2735 seconds at 190.894 mph around the 1.022-mile oval.

The track is not the same configuration or length as when IndyCar last raced at Phoenix in 2005, nor when the official track record of 19.608 seconds (183.599 mph) was set by Arie Luyendyk in 1996.

So while all drivers down to 18th placed Max Chilton set a best lap under that old mark at some point in one of the four three-hour sessions, none count as official track record laps.

Nonetheless, Castroneves’ mark provides a target for the field to shoot for when the series returns April 1-2 for the Phoenix race, the second race of the year.

Some laps were tow-assisted while others were single laps.

The fourth session featured two incidents, which was different than the three previous sessions.

Will Power had an engine failure in his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, a rarity, with smoke and fire out the back entering Turn 1 just before sunset.

Meanwhile in the final hour, Jack Hawksworth hit the wall exiting Turn 2 in the No. 41 ABC Supply Co. Honda, in what was the only contact moment of the weekend.

Both drivers were OK, with Hawksworth checked, cleared and released after his incident.

Times from both session four and combined are below.



Previous session reports are linked here:

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.”