ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Helio Castroneves will not be in the IndyCar field when the season opens for the first time he joined the series. His Team Penske teammates have not forgotten the popular driver.
Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power all wore special “Helio” stickers across the top of their visors in Friday’s practice sessions for the season-opening race through the streets of St. Petersburg on Sunday. Castroneves was moved out of Penske’s IndyCar organization at the end of last season and now leads its new sports car program.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner who started in the series in 1998 will be back in an Indy car in May when he goes for a record-tying fourth victory at the showcase race. On Friday, he was still trying to adjust to not being on the track and not seeing his familiar No. 3 making laps.
“I’m not going to deny it is difficult,” Castroneves said. “Leading up to the moments for the first practice and seeing the cars, I’ve been doing this for 20 years and it hasn’t yet sank in that I’m not there. Slowly it’s going to be normal. We adapt. We move on with life. We get over it. We `man up.”‘
Castroneves, a three-time winner at St. Pete, is the grand marshal for Sunday’s race. He joked his command might be directed only at the Penske drivers to start their engines.
Although he’s a spectator this weekend, Power said it felt like Castroneves was still part of the team. To learn the new car that IndyCar rolled out for this season, Castroneves will participate in team meetings. He’ll get his first seat time in the new Dallarra later this month in a test at Barber Motorsports in Alabama.
As for the dynamic within the organization, which went from four cars to three without Castroneves, Power said reigning champion Newgarden fills the void.
“I think Josef kind of takes his spot as far as energy and loudness in the engineering office,” said Power.
Adam Cianciarulo sweeps to second straight Pro Motocross 450 win
Adam Cianciarulo (450) and Dylan Ferrandis (250) swept both motos of their divisions Saturday in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship event at Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minnesota, significantly impacting the points standings.
“Man, what a dream come true,” Cianciarulo said. “I really wanted to go 1-1 last round at RedBud and had that silly mistake. Today, we got the job done and made it happen. Two consecutive victories in the 450 Class just feels really good. I just want to keep the ball rolling.”
With three rounds remaining, Cianciarulo is ranked second in the standings at a 15-point deficit to Zach Osborne, who won three of the first five rounds.
In the 250 standings, Dylan Ferrandis jumped ahead of Jeremy Martin (who won three consecutive events earlier in the season) by three points (257-254).
Ferrandis beat third-ranked RJ Hampshire in the first moto and nipping Martin by 0.4 seconds in the second.
“That was a difficult race in the second moto and the pressure was on,” Ferrandis said. “It was really good for me to have that battle and come out on top in the second moto. The championship is really close and I think that we were able to put on a good show for everyone today. Jeremy [Martin] and I have a good relationship I think and we congratulated each other and talked about the battle after the race.”
NEXT: The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will hold its seventh round Sept. 26 with the Geico Motorcycle WW Ranch National at Jacksonville, Florida.
Thor Spring Creek National (Spring Creek MX Park, Millville, Minnesota)
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (1-1)
Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM (2-2)
Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha (5-4)
Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (8-3)
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (6-5)
Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (3-10)
Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda (7-6)
Joey Savatgy, , Suzuki (9-7)
Max Anstie, United Kingdom, Suzuki (10-8)
Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (4-16)
450 Class Championship Standings
Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 235
Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 220
Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 215
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 196
Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha – 194
Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM – 190
Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 173
Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda – 141
Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Yamaha – 134
Joey Savatgy, Tallahassee, Fla., Suzuki – 122
250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (1-1)
Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (5-2)
Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki (4-4)
Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (3-6)
Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (9-3)