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IMS reveals drivers set for April 6 test

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Next week marks an important one-day test for the Verizon IndyCar Series at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ahead of the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, April 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

It will see the debuts of the new domed skid plates underneath the car and rear wing beam flips, both of which were announced as 2016 safety enhancements last November.

IMS has also revealed the drivers that will test that day. It includes:

  • Mikhail Aleshin, No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
  • Marco Andretti, No. 27 Snapple Honda
  • Sebastien Bourdais, No. 11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet
  • Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet
  • Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet
  • Conor Daly, No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda
  • Scott Dixon, No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
  • Jack Hawksworth, No. 41 ABC Supply Co. Honda
  • James Hinchcliffe, No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 28 DHL Honda
  • Tony Kanaan, No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
  • Charlie Kimball, No. 83 Tresiba Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
  • Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet
  • Carlos Munoz, No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda
  • Josef Newgarden, No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet
  • Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet
  • Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet
  • Graham Rahal, No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
  • Takuma Sato, No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Honda

Sponsors and liveries may be subject to change; the ones listed above are likely for the Indianapolis 500 race; Daly’s primary sponsor for the Indianapolis 500 is yet to be determined.

Daly (2013) and Aleshin (2014) have one start apiece at the Speedway; Daly was due to start his second ‘500 last year before a mechanical failure ground his No. 43 Smithfield Honda on the parade laps.  The remaining drivers all have two or more ‘500 starts.

The rookie orientation program is set to follow on May. Thus far there are four confirmed rookies: full-season drivers Max Chilton and Alexander Rossi, and confirmed part-timers Spencer Pigot and Matthew Brabham.

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.”