Photo: IndyCar

Wind interrupts play Wednesday at Indy, plus other notes

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INDIANAPOLIS – Some days during the month of May, Mother Nature is the leading driver on the charts.

Sure, there were 400 laps turned by 21 drivers (only 14 of whom posted representative speeds) in Wednesday’s practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

But it was a day where very little running overall occurred, as high and consistent winds were in the 15 to 25 mph range, with gusts more than that north of 30.

Scott Dixon led for most of the day with a best tow speed of 222.599 mph and no-tow of 220.794. That was before in the final hour Ed Carpenter edged ahead at 222.894 mph, done without a tow, in cooler conditions and an empty track.

Carpenter and teammate JR Hildebrand each posted more than 50 laps on the day.

Other notes from Wednesday:

Following complaints that their cars are too fast in practice for the Indy 500, Honda engineers take delivery of a fresh round of sandbags Wednesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Photo: Honda/LAT
  • So there was a bit of gamesmanship on Tuesday about whether Honda teams were “sandbagging” – not deploying their full speed and potential. Honda’s PR rep quickly arranged this photo then (see above as well), to humorously stir the pot.
  • Indianapolis Colts rookies were out to the Speedway today. Defending race champion Alexander Rossi promptly took a selfie with them.
  • Sage Karam and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing made a quick pit stop into the press conference room. Karam and DRR both want to be back full-time in the series, although Karam is thankful to have the 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 program keeping him busy full-time this year versus last year.
  • Had further interviews with Harding Racing team principal Mike Harding and team manager Larry Curry today, as they run with Gabby Chaves. More on that team’s solid start to come either later this week or early next week.
  • Several teams didn’t run at all on Wednesday. The Team Penske quintet didn’t and neither did the Dale Coyne Racing trio.
  • This was the first round of pit stop practice for Michael Shank Racing’s team on an IndyCar, and Shank said he was pleased with their progress.
  • Shank’s longtime friend AJ Allmendinger has been in attendance the last two days as well, supporting the team’s efforts. Allmendinger’s longtime friend, and Shank Acura NSX GT3 driver Katherine Legge then joined the supporting cast today as well. Both drivers last raced the ‘500 in 2013.
  • Others of note making the rounds in the paddock: Stefan Wilson, James Davison and Tristan Vautier.
  • Prep continues for the Buddy Lazier entry, as the team’s engine was now assembled with the chassis today. On a short program, Thursday or Friday will now be the day when we’d expect to see that car on track.
  • Couple sponsor notes. Made in Space has been formally confirmed as an associate sponsor with Pippa Mann’s No. 63 Honda. Per a release: “As part of the company’s partnership with Mann, Made In Space plans to print the Susan G. Komen® running ribbon logo on its 3D printer aboard the ISS during National Breast Cancer Awareness month in October 2017. The ribbon will then be auctioned off to raise funds on behalf of Komen’s national research and community outreach programs.”
  • Juncos Racing has formally confirmed Temple Fork Outfitters, Ricoh USA and Ray Morgan Company as associate sponsors and primary sponsors Oceanfront Recovery through Rising Star Racing and P1 Management of Spencer Pigot’s Chevrolet powered car.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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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.”