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IndyCar history: Fourth of July races

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Several times in its history, the Verizon IndyCar Series has hosted an event near the Fourth of July. Yet, only a few times has a race actually been held on that day.

The last time a race was held on July 4 was in 2010, with Will Power taking victory at Watkins Glen, the last time IndyCar visited the famed New York road course until its return last year.

Only six years prior, Buddy Rice accomplished a similar feat in 2004, winning at Kansas Speedway on July 4.

KANSAS CITY, KS – JULY 4: Buddy Rice, driving the #15 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent/Pioneer Honda GForce, crosses the line side by side with his second placed teammate Vitor Meira in the #17 Centrix Honda GForce to win the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Argent Mortgage Indy 300 on July 4, 2004 at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Gavin Lawrence/Getty Images)

However, those have been the only two races held on July 4 in the 21st century. Previously, the last time an IndyCar event took place on July 4 was in 1982, with Bobby Rahal winning at Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport.

Of note: twice since 2000 has a race been held on July 3, with Sebastien Bourdais winning at Cleveland in 2004 (run under the Champ Car World Series banner) and Tony Kanaan winning at Kansas in 2005.

Similarly, two races have been held on July 5 since 2000. The aforementioned Bourdais won at Cleveland on that date in 2003 (then under CART sanctioning), and in 2009, the late Justin Wilson gave Dale Coyne Racing its maiden IndyCar win at Watkins Glen.

WATKINS GLEN, NY – JULY 05: Justin Wilson driver of the #18 Z-Line Design Dale Coyne Racing Dallara Honda celebrates with his team after their first ever victory at the IRL IndyCar Series Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen on July 5, 2009 at the Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)

The most recent event the Verizon IndyCar Series has held on the weekend of July 4 came in 2014, when Juan Pablo Montoya scored a victory at Pocono Raceway on July 6.

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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.”