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Iowa Speedway, INDYCAR announce two-year extension

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NEWTON, Iowa – Iowa Speedway and INDYCAR officials have confirmed a two-year extension of the Iowa Corn 300, announced Saturday at Iowa Speedway.

“If you build it, they will keep coming,” said Iowa Speedway president Jimmy Small. “We’ve extended our relationship for two years. We’ve secured dates and sponsorship through 2018 with Iowa Corn. Happy to announce this as part of a long-term strategy.”

The race has quickly become a staple of the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, as this year’s Iowa Corn 300 is the 10th since the first IndyCar race here in 2007.

The race has changed back to a day race, not just for 2016, but Small confirmed for the next two years as well – dates of which were confirmed as July 9, 2017 and July 8, 2018.

“Consistency is what we are going for,” Small explained. “Similar races, temperatures, everything around that race we want to keep going.

“[NASCAR] has a relatively new broadcast partner with NBCSN, so having them at Kentucky this weekend, we work closely with INDYCAR and NBCSN to how we’ve done in terms of attendance, fan feedback.

“We love night racing here. I hope this room is unanimous in liking that. But for this year, we made our best decision possible. We have the Sunday race; that really caps off the weekend of racing.”

Small, Frye, Floss and Kanaan. Photo: IndyCar
Small, Frye, Floss and Kanaan. Photo: IndyCar

Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations, Craig Floss, CEO, Iowa Corn Growers Association and Tony Kanaan, driver of the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, joined Small to make the announcement on Saturday.

Small and Frye briefly expanded on the announcement in separate breakouts.

“We don’t comment on, or provide attendance numbers, but I’m very happy with our numbers for this year,” Small said. “With great weather we should have a good walk-up.

“Robin [Miller] is here and has told me in the past and I hope I’m not speaking off the collar here, but he says it’s his second favorite race of the year!

“I used to go to Kansas and Texas, but I’ve never seen a race like this. I get why this is so popular, doing for 10 years and now doing for two more.”

Frye added of the afternoon start time, “The window now is unique. In late afternoon… it shouldn’t be too bad heat wise, and people can do their thing for the day and then come home to watch. It will be interesting to see what happens.”

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.”