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Sochi Autodrom names grandstand after Vitaly Petrov

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The Sochi Autodrom has named its Turn 2 grandstand after Russia’s first Formula 1 driver, Vitaly Petrov, ahead of this year’s grand prix.

Petrov made his F1 debut in 2010 with Renault before scoring his first podium finish at the Australian Grand Prix in 2011, with the team rebranded as Lotus.

Petrov joined Caterham for 2012 but failed to score any points, and was dropped by the team for 2013 when it opted to sign Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.

The Russian then moved into DTM and has since found a home in sportscars, racing for SMP Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship last year.

Petrov has now been honored by the Sochi circuit, which is set to host its fourth F1 race on April 30, with the Turn 2 grandstand set to bear his name.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the organizers of the 2017 Formula 1 VTB Russian Grand Prix for the honor and respect shown to me. This is a really significant event in my life!” Petrov said.

“I’m sure that the grandstand named after me will always be packed, because it is located in one of the most exciting places of the track, where at the end of a straight the cars accelerate to 339 km/h, and all 20 drivers attack each other at the entry of the second right-hand corner.

“Throughout the race, we will also see some amazing overtakes! Once again, thank you to all my fans, as well as Formula 1 fans.”

Petrov is the second driver to have a grandstand named after him in Sochi, the first being Daniil Kvyat, who was the first Russian F1 racer to compete on home soil at the 2014 event.

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.”