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Juan Pablo Montoya takes on new role: mechanic for his son

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At 42 years old, it’s no secret that Juan Pablo Montoya is in the twilight of a career that has seen him win some of racing’s biggest events.

So what’s next for the Colombian driver when he finally hangs up his firesuit?

Would you believe mechanic?

But there’s a caveat with that.

Montoya is serving as mechanic for 12-year-old son Sebastian’s rising effort in the go-kart world – and he’s loving every minute of it.

Veteran motorsports writer Godwin Kelly had a great story about father and son Montoya’s exploits in the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

While JPM will race full-time in the IMSA Series for Team Penske this season, he’s also playing the key role in his son’s development of potentially following in his father’s footsteps and racing shoes.

The elder Montoya has a stellar resume that includes two wins in the Indianapolis 500, seven wins in Formula One and three victories at the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona.

He’s back at Daytona International Speedway this week as Sebastian’s go-to guy when it comes to servicing the car and keeping it running in tip-top shape. And even though Juan Pablo downplays his role, he’s obviously taught Sebastian well — not to mention make his go-kart one of the best in the field.

Daytona KartWeek concluded today and Sebastian has made both his name and his pedigree known. He finished third in his first race Friday, was second in the half-mile sprint course and then won the day’s final race.

“Some dads and sons go fishing,” Sebastian told Kelly and the News-Journal. “For us, it’s go-karting. This is fun.”

Added Juan Pablo, “Sebastian has been racing about five years. I’m here as his mechanic. I do everything. Sometimes, when we come with a big team, he has his own mechanic, but I like wrenching. We work good together. We are competitive this way.”

Sebastian spent much of last season racing go-karts in Europe under his father’s expert tutelage.

“I put him in these tough situations, always,” Montoya told the N-J with a smile on his face and a glint in his eye. “I don’t make his life easy. Last year was a good learning year for him, and this year should be better for Sebastian.”

While father and son were due to depart Daytona Saturday evening, JPM won’t be away long: he returns to DIS on Thursday to prepare for next weekend’s Roar Before the 24, followed by the season-opening Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona three weeks later.

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.”