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PT, Helio sit down before Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto

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Ahead of this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto, three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves and 2003 CART champion and NBCSN Verizon IndyCar Series analyst Paul Tracy sit down for an extended conversation about their respective careers and following Castroneves’ recent win in the Iowa Corn 300.

The interview will air in Sunday’s pre-race show for the race, which airs at 3 p.m. ET on CNBC. Race coverage follows after that. Today’s qualifying show airs at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Castroneves and Tracy had a famous duel in the 2002 Indianapolis 500, but a caution flag that came out negated Tracy’s on-track pass of Castroneves into Turn 3 for the lead and what would have been the victory. The race ended under a yellow flag with Castroneves having won his second ‘500 in as many attempts, and Tracy a hard-luck second.

The two raced each other in IndyCar from 1998, when Castroneves was a rookie, through Tracy’s final season in 2011. Both have had Team Penske be a key part of their careers – Tracy was a regular winner for the team over the 1993, 1994 and 1997 seasons (branched off to Newman/Haas Racing in 1995 and went winless upon returning to Penske in 1996). Castroneves is in his 18th season with Penske and 20th overall this year.

With Castroneves winning at Iowa last Sunday, he scored his 30th career victory, breaking a tie with Team Penske legend Rick Mears on 29, and moving him to within one of Tracy, Dario Franchitti and Will Power on 31 wins for ninth place on the all-time list. It’s illustrious company, for sure.

But with Castroneves’ full-time IndyCar career now a topic of conversation, how does he manage the future?

See the interview between Tracy and Castroneves tomorrow during the pre-race show at 3 p.m. ET on CNBC.

NHRA: Dodge/Mopar to unveil new Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car today in Denver

Photos/video courtesy Dodge/Mopar
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If you’re a fan of NHRA Funny Car racing and Dodge/Mopar, you may notice something different at this weekend’s Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Denver, Colorado.

Two-time (2011 and 2014) NHRA Funny Car champ Matt Hagan – who has won the last two NHRA national events in the last four weeks – will be piloting a newly-designed 2019 Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a 10,000-horsepower Funny Car that makes its debut today at Dodge/Mopar’s premier NHRA national event.

The new Charger SRT Hellcat succeeds the former Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, which had been in use since 2015.

“We improved on the body design,” Hagan said of the new Charger Hellcat. “It was already a great design, a great body. But now, we’re going to have a little more downforce, a little more traction on these racetracks and it will be a huge performance advantage.”

The new Hellcat includes a number of innovations, including a new front splitter to increase downforce. Just like its predecessor, the R/T, the Hellcat will go head-to-head with Chevrolet’s Camaro in the NHRA Funny Car ranks.

“We will be able to press harder with more downforce on the nose, which translates into huge amounts of downforce on the run,” Hagan said.

According to a media release, the new Hellcat features major design changes in three key areas: the front end, bodysides and burst panel placement:

* “At the front, the shape of the nose has been tweaked and a new splitter (photo), built of carbon fiber and Kevlar like the rest of the Funny Car body, has been added. The splitter substantially mimics the look and shape of the production vehicle’s splitter while generating greater downforce to help plant the Funny Car to the track.

* “Bodyside scallops have been redesigned to more closely identify with the production Hellcat while also enhancing on-track function and performance. The deeper character lines provide greater visual ties to the street version of the Hellcat, while also helping to mitigate the “body burn” common on all Funny Cars due to the close positioning of the exhaust headers.

* “The location of the burst panel on the hood has also been reworked. The panel is now centered over the top of the engine to more efficiently release energy and pressure in the event of engine issues, a common occurrence in race cars that are pushed to the razor’s edge of performance.”

Since the R/T was first introduced into the Don Schumacher Racing corps, it has gone on to 50 wins, 42 runner-up finishes and 40 No. 1 qualifiers in NHRA national events and one NHRA Funny Car World Championship (Ron Capps, 2016).

The new Charger SRT Hellcat, which can exceed 330-plus mph and covers 1,000 feet in under four seconds, is the drag strip version of the supercharged, 707-horsepower production Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.

While Hagan will drive the first Hellcat, his other three Dodge-powered DSR teammates – Capps, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. – will soon take delivery of their own versions of the car over the remaining 11 races of the 2018 season.

One day after winning two weeks ago at Norwalk, Ohio, Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables put the new Hellcat through its paces with several test runs. The results were so strong that it was decided to debut the car at Denver and run all qualifying and elimination rounds with it.

“We made four good, solid runs in testing at Norwalk,” said Hagan. “We put the body through a lot of different things and were really, really pleased with it.

“I really think it’s going to translate over to performance on the race track, and hopefully more win lights in the future.”

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