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Mistake costs Newgarden a chance at second straight IndyCar win

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There’s curbing one’s appetite, curb appeal of a house and then what happened to Josef Newgarden in Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.

Newgarden smacked a piece of curbing so hard on Lap 57 (of 85 laps) that he wound up wrecking.

And with that wreck, so went Newgarden’s hopes for a top-10 finish — and potentially a second consecutive win, having won the week before at Iowa.

Instead, Newgarden, who started eighth in Sunday’s race, learned a very valuable lesson: what it’s like to be on top one week (winning at Iowa), and then be on the bottom (finishing last at Toronto) the next week.

Here’s what Newgarden had to say about his incident:

“It (was) an error on my part,” he said. “I hate to blame it on an injury, but I hit the curb too hard and lost the wheel.

“I couldn’t hang on to the wheel. I didn’t have the strength to hold on to the wheel. I feel terrible for our guys. We had a good race going. We were fighting back.

“We got put back for an incident that I don’t think was our fault. We fought our way back. We could have had a good finish there. It was my mistake and I feel bad because we are going to lose some points there.”

Indeed, Newgarden dropped from second place after his win at Iowa to fifth after his early exit at Toronto. He’s now 88 points behind series leader Simon Pagenaud.

Newgarden hopes his hand is in better shape for the next race at Mid-Ohio next weekend.

“It’s just sore,” Newgarden said of his injured paw. “I wish my grip strength was better right now but it’s not; probably not where I need to be.

“I should have stayed off the curb. I knew better than to hit it that hard with my grip strength where it is.”

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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.”