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Bourdais apologizes for Dixon contact; rues missed chance at Barber

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – One of the fastest drivers all weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 11 Europa Chevrolet for KVSH Racing, ended an unrepresentative and hard luck 16th at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama following early race contact with Scott Dixon.

Bourdais took sole responsibility for the contact but was more frustrated with Graham Rahal in the incident. He had qualified fifth.

For the contact, Bourdais was assessed a drive-through penalty, and with no cautions he had no chance to recover. Still, he remained one of the fastest drivers on the race track throughout the day.

“I think he was just trying to defend his position; position himself wherever he had to position himself, and he ended up with a lot of angle just before the apex, and that basically put him almost perpendicular to my car,” Bourdais told NBC Sports.

“Graham was on my right making sure I wasn’t going to get much room and from there it was basically like a shoebox where I couldn’t do anything. I was going  to get the position back from Graham, but he (Graham) gave me no opportunity to get out of it. If he (Graham) had opened the door a little bit, I could have avoided Scotty.

“It’s my fault, it’s always your responsibility not to hit other cars, but, it’s always a shitty thing when you are racing some one next to you and whoever ends up in front takes the hit because you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

He was even more frustrated his weekend pace – he led a practice session and made the Firestone Fast 6 for the first time this year – amounted to nothing.

“I sad for the guys, I’m obviously disappointed I wasted and opportunity, and I feel terrible for Scott,” he said. “When ended up racing each other out of the pits, I let him go, because I had done enough damage. It’s frustrating because it’s a wasted opportunity. We knew we had a fast car and it showed in the race. We basically held station in front of Simon, and we only started losing time when we got held up in traffic. It’s frustrating to not get anything out of it.”

Good news that for Bourdais, who went to find Dixon and the Ganassi team after the race to apologize, has no issues with one of his teammates for Ganassi’s Ford GT program at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Bourdais had finished eighth and ninth in the previous two races and was looking for his best finish of the season after what had been easily his best weekend.

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.”