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Carlin confirms Garth Rickards to step up into Indy Lights

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Garth Rickards is the first driver confirmed for Carlin’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires program next season, with the Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania native stepping up from the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda ranks into an Dallara IL-15 Mazda.

Carlin ran three cars this year with Ed Jones winning the championship, and graduating to the Verizon IndyCar Series with Dale Coyne Racing. Neil Alberico isn’t confirmed but seems very likely to be back for a second season while a third car would be a topic of intrigue.

As for 24-year-old Rickards, he completed two years in USF2000 with Team Pelfrey and Pabst Racing, and scored his first series podium with third at Mid-Ohio last year, at his de facto home track. Rickards has tested extensively with Carlin this offseason prior to this signing. He showed a lot of pace in USF2000 but was frequently unlucky from a results standpoint, and perhaps that’s why his overall mark wasn’t as good as it could have been.

“To say I am excited is an understatement and I can’t thank everyone who was involved enough,” Rickards said. “Carlin has proven that they are one of the best junior open wheel teams in the world with their track record. Their focus on driver development will really help me grow and move my way up through the field in my rookie season.

“Trevor and the whole Carlin squad have been extremely supportive and I’m excited to work with them hopefully for many years. I want to personally thank David Luther and Luther Automotive for believing in me and helping me continue to chase my dream. Together with all my associate sponsors coming on board it has put us in a great position to be a force in 2017.”

Team principal Trevor Carlin added, “We are extremely pleased to have Garth join us here at Carlin for 2017. Garth has shown real potential in his career so far and it’s always nice to see a driver moving further up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. We know that Garth will be a strong addition to our team and having already worked with him over the course of a test program we’re looking forward continuing where we left off and building a strong program together for the season ahead.”

Rickards is the ninth Indy Lights driver confirmed for 2017. Andretti Autosport (with Steinbrenner Racing for Colton Herta’s entry, 4 total cars), Juncos Racing (2) and Belardi Auto Racing (2) have also confirmed entries with Team Pelfrey now the only team yet to reveal its first driver for next season.

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.”