Helio Castroneves upset after hard crash sends Penske to garage

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Less than four hours into the Rolex 24 at Daytona, a crash knocked one of Team Penske’s Acuras from contention and left Helio Castroneves steaming.

Driving the No. 7 entry, Castroneves was hit in the left rear by the fellow DPi car of Harry Tincknell when entering the tricky Bus Stop section of the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

Castroneves told NBC Sports pit reporter Marty Snider that he had been radioing his team to relay to Tincknell to be patient as they worked through traffic.

“It’s not even four hours into the race, I was taking my time, dealing with traffic, and then the guy just decided to dive into (me) in a place that’s probably 120 mph,” Castroneves said. “For a risk that’s not going to pay off.

“We had a great car. It’s just … 24 hours! Ugh! I’m sorry that I expressed my feelings right now, but it’s just ridiculous. Especially when we tell the guy, look, we’re communicating and taking it easy. I’ll let you by, no problem. So many hours to go. It’s just frustrating.”

Tincknell, whose car sustained minor damage, received a drive-though penalty from IMSA for “incident responsibility” and took the blame for the incident (“it was late on my part”) but also noted that Castroneves made passing more difficult by moving through the braking zones and backing off on the straightaways.

“It looks pretty bad for me,” Tincknell said. “I’m sorry for him, sorry for their team, sorry for our team as well because we damaged the car. If you’re dicing that so hard, sometimes you get sent to the wall. That’s what happened. I am sure I will take the blame for it and I will just take that on the chin. Sorry to them.”

Tincknell said Castroneves’ requests for patience and offering to let him by weren’t relayed but intimated it might not have mattered because of the massive closing speeds.

“He’s moving in a braking zone, and I had massive closing speed on the straight, and unfortunately got too close,” he said. “There’s a long way to go, and it’s easy to look back in hindsight on those mistakes and say, ‘Yeah, I shouldn’t have done it.’

“But if he was so worried about me being crazy, he could have just let me through.”

After repairs that took about 35 minutes, Castroneves returned to the race 23 laps down with just more than 20 hours remaining. Team Penske’s remaining No. 6 entry of Juan Pablo Montoya, Dane Cameron and Simon Pagenaud still was running second, but the No. 7’s chances were done despite also having decent speed.

“We found a good setup,” said Castroneves, who shares the car with Alexander Rossi and Ricky Taylor. “We actually were taking it easy. I was making sure I was staying away from the curbs. Ugh! Sorry. It’s just frustration right now. We’re going to cheer for the 6 car, hopefully, we can make this situation better at least. But it’s just stupid.”

F1 aggressive on COVID-19 testing, social distancing enforcement

F1 COVID-19 testing
Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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With big hugs and wide smiles, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown exuberantly celebrated the first podium finish of Lando Norris’ Formula One career. His exuberance earned a warning from Formula One and FIA officials during the era of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and subsequent F1 testing.

“Obviously I got excited with Lando on the podium and embraced him after the race,” Brown said with a laugh during a news conference Friday. “You get caught up in the emotion and excitement of the event, but it was suggested maybe I don’t do that again if we get a podium anytime soon.”

MASK WARNING: NASCAR tells teams to avoid ‘complacency’

Now in its second race weekend of 2020, F1 has taken an aggressive approach to maintain a paddock free of COVID-19. Before teams hit the track last week for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, F1 and FIA officials said more than 4,000 tests were conducted over a week with no positive tests.

In order to enter the track, any F1 personnel (which includes drivers and team members) must have a negative COVID-19 test. Private testing was used ahead of those traveling to Austria. After entering the track, personnel are tested every five days with private medical teams at events along with extra screening.

The results of F1 COVID-19 testing also will be made public every seven days. More than 8,000 tests were conducted through Saturday.

It’s a much different tack from NASCAR and IndyCar, neither of which is conducting COVID-19 testing (and with NASCAR recently distributing that warned teams of “complacency with protocols).

Though Brown, who also oversees Arrow McLaren SP Motorsports in IndyCar, demurred when asked whether the U.S.-based series should be taking a cue, he praised F1 COVID-19 testing for being a best-in-class example.

“I don’t know exactly what every other racing series is doing, so it would be difficult for me to say they’re doing it right or wrong,” Brown said from Austria. “All I can really do is speak to what Formula One is doing, and they’re doing an unbelievable job with 5,000 tests, and people flying in from different parts of the world. The minute that someone — and there’s not been many instances – has taken a mask off, you’re getting a letter or a phone call saying put your mask back on.

“I think all sports should be looking at all sports and seeing who’s doing what and what are our best practices, but I’ve got nothing but great things to say about how the FIA and Formula One and the countries they’re racing in are executing because it feels extremely safe here.”

Brown said it’s unlikely the European-based circuit will do F1 COVID-19 testing at races in the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Canada because the events likely will be scrubbed. Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, was scheduled to play host to F1 on the Oct. 23-25 race weekend but just canceled its MotoGP race.

“We’d very much like to race at all those circuits,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, my opinion is it’s probably unlikely we’ll race at any of those venues this year. That’s obviously due to the COVID situation. … Let’s see what happens, but certainly it seems like the spikes in Texas are pretty severe and Brazil and Mexico and Canada a little less so. But if we miss them this year, we certainly look forward to going back to those venues next year.”