INDYCAR/Joe Skibinski

Will Power leads opening practice for Indy 500

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Will Power began his bid to become the 6th driver to earn consecutive Indianapolis 500 victories by topping today’s opening practice for the 103rd Running.

The 38-year-old from Australia led a 1-2 run for Team Penske, posting a lap of 229.745 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. Following him was INDYCAR Grand Prix winner Simon Pagenaud, whose best lap was just .0072 of a second off Power’s pace (229.703 mph).

Indianapolis native Ed Carpenter, always a threat at his hometown Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was third-fastest (228.653 mph), followed by 3-time ‘500’ winner Helio Castroneves (228.441 mph) and 19-year-old rookie Colton Herta (228.284 mph) to complete Tuesday’s Top-5 speeds. Herta brought out the lone caution period of the day that came from an on-track incident, when he suffered a tire failure and spun at pit exit during the final hour.

In regards to no-tow speeds, however, it was Carpenter’s teammate Ed Jones that was quickest in the session. His best lap of 224.542 mph in the No. 63 Ed Carpenter Racing/Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet was good for 10th overall. The third Ed Carpenter Racing driver, Spencer Pigot, logged the most laps of any driver with 128.

As for the race’s biggest global draw, Fernando Alonso and his McLaren Racing team suffered through a tough opening day. The 2-time Formula One World Champion completed his refresher test, but later suffered mechanical problems. He only posted the 32nd-fastest lap (224.162 mph), turning 50 laps in total.

Practice resumes tomorrow from 11am-6pm ET at the Speedway, with coverage on NBC Sports Gold INDYCAR Pass.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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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.”