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Castroneves move to Penske Acura program confirmed

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Helio Castroneves’ full time career in IndyCar is over. His switch to Team Penske’s Acura sports car program has been confirmed.

Team Penske today announced that longtime winning INDYCAR driver Helio Castroneves will join the team’s new Acura Team Penske program that will begin racing in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Castroneves will join previously-announced drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron in racing one of two Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype International (DPi) entries next season. Acura Team Penske’s final full-time and endurance drivers will be announced at a later date.

Castroneves will officially return to sport car competition, joining fellow Team Penske drivers Montoya and Simon Pagenaud, at this weekend’s 20th Anniversary Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta driving an ORECA-07. The team will make its competition debut with the new Acura prototype sports cars at IMSA’s 2018 season-opening Rolex 24 race at Daytona in January.

In addition to his sport car duties, Castroneves is expected to continue to compete for Team Penske in next May’s Indianapolis 500 as the popular Brazilian driver continues his quest to become a four-time winner of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“Helio has been a valuable member of Team Penske for almost 20 years and we are looking forward to sharing more success together,” said Roger Penske. “Competitors like Helio, Rick Mears and Mark Donohue are what have made Team Penske what it is today. This represents a new challenge for him and I know he is excited about the opportunity. Having established winning drivers like Helio and Juan, teaming up with young and talented racers that know the series like Dane Cameron, will help give our new sports car program a solid foundation as we head into the 2018 season.”

Castroneves will transition to the Team Penske sports car program after 18 successful seasons with the organization’s Verizon IndyCar Series team. Castroneves finished fourth in this year’s Championship standings, marking the 14th time in his career that he has finished inside the top-five in the season-ending rankings. Over the course of his 20-year INDYCAR career, Castroneves has produced 30 wins and 50 pole positions, including one win and three poles won in 2017.

Considered one of the all-time greats in INDYCAR history, Castroneves has earned more wins than any other driver in the history of Team Penske’s championship open-wheel racing program. He’s produced three victories in the Indianapolis 500, two of which came back-to-back in his first two starts at Indy in 2001 and 2002. He last won at Indianapolis in 2009 and he’s come remarkably close to earning a record-tying fourth Indy 500 win, finishing second two times over the last four seasons.

In addition to his remarkable INDYCAR success, Castroneves has also made five starts for Team Penske in sports car competition as he produced two poles, three podium finishes and a class victory in the 2008 Petit Le Mans event.

“I’ve been fortunate to achieve a lot of my personal goals with Team Penske over the years,” said Castroneves, who is also the longest-tenured driver in team history. “Helping Roger, the team and everyone with Acura start this program and build it from the ground up will be another big challenge and a great opportunity in my career. I am proud of everything we have accomplished together in INDYCAR and now I am focused on helping to develop the ARX-05 to try and win the 24 Hours of Daytona and the IMSA championship in 2018 with Acura.

“I’m also excited to get a chance to race again for Team Penske at the Indianapolis 500. That race is near and dear to my heart and trying to become the fourth four-time winner is something I really want to accomplish in my career. We’ve come so close the last few years and with this team, I know we will have a great opportunity to try and make some history.”

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.