Bourdais has great empathy for his fellow IndyCar driver. Photo: IndyCar

IndyCar: Sebastien Bourdais understands what Robert Wickens is going through

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Sebastien Bourdais has been where Robert Wickens is, literally and figuratively.

Perhaps more than any other driver on the IndyCar circuit in recent times, Bourdais can most relate to what Wickens, who was seriously injured in a crash at Pocono Raceway on August 19, is going through.

Bourdais was injured May 20, 2017 in a crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during qualifying for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500. He suffered multiple fractures to his pelvis and hip when his car violently slammed into the outside retaining wall exiting Turn 2.

Bourdais would ultimately miss the next nine races while recovering and rehabilitating, but managed to return to compete in the final three races of the 2017 season.

Sebastien Bourdais leads Robert Wickens in a race earlier this season. Photo: IndyCar.

Even though Bourdais said he still feels some after-effects of his 2017 crash, he  went through the full season in 2018, finishing seventh in the overall Verizon IndyCar Series standings.

That included winning the season-opening race in the Frenchman’s adopted hometown in the U.S., St. Petersburg, Florida.

In a story on IndyCar.com on Monday, Bourdais told writer Phillip B. Wilson that he visited Wickens last Tuesday, hours before the Victory Lap Celebration in Indianapolis.

“You want to show support and you want to go and see him,” Bourdais told Wilson.

Ironically, Wickens is in the same rehab facility that Bourdais was and brought back many memories that Bourdais would rather forget from his own crash.

“Race car drivers don’t like hospital rehab facilities,” Bourdais told IndyCar.com. “(Wickens’ room is) two rooms down from where I was last year, so I don’t need any reminders of that.”

After already undergoing a number of surgeries to treat a variety of fractures in his legs and hands, as well as a spinal column injury, the 29-year-old Wickens still has a long road of recovery ahead of him.

But the plucky Canadian, who won the 2018 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors despite missing the last four races of the season due to his injury, has vowed to return to IndyCar racing as soon as he’s physically able to, however long that takes.

Driver of the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, the 39-year-old Bourdais completely understands what Wickens is going through.

“I had never gotten hurt before, so I didn’t know what it was,” Bourdais told Wilson. “It could have been a lot worse.

“You look at Robbie and it puts things in perspective. I hope he comes back. He was pretty exceptional, to do what he did in his rookie year.”

Click here for the full IndyCar.com story about Bourdais and Wickens.

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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.”