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Danica Patrick says Indy 500 plans complete

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Although she stopped short of announcing a team with which she’ll compete during the month of May, Danica Patrick on Monday asserted that her plans to run the Indianapolis 500, scheduled to be the final race of her career, are set.

“No, I just needed to make sure (the deal) was done. The rest I don’t really care about,” Patrick quipped when asked about specific details in a story posted on IndyCar’s website.

With GoDaddy as a sponsor for her venture, Patrick’s only scheduled races for 2018 are this weekend’s Daytona 500, where she will be competing with Premium Motorsports, and the Indy 500.

Patrick later added that she and her team will have something significant planned for the Indy 500 announcement.

“Obviously, the start of this (NASCAR) season didn’t happen any different than last season did, where I showed up and I hadn’t been in the car since Homestead,” she said. “It’s no different than that. But Indy is obviously totally different. We’ll do something a little more substantial for the announcement and the unveil.”

Patrick finished by saying that finishing off her career with the Indy 500 holds a great amount of personal significance to her.

“There’s nothing against Daytona, but just from being a young little girl, I had always wanted to win the Indy 500,” Patrick explained. “It’s not to say that Daytona is not an enormous deal. But I have to go with what feels like the most important in my heart and I came from open-wheel racing, I wanted to win the Indy 500 from being a go-kart driver when I was a kid and came close a few times. It’s kind of what started it all for me, so there’s just a lot more history there.”

Possible landing spots for Patrick include Ed Carpenter Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, all of whom traditionally field extra entries beyond their full-season efforts for the Indy 500. Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, which fielded a one-off entry for Sage Karam last year, could also be in play.

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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.”