Roger Penske Indy 500 fans
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Roger Penske tells fans they’ll return at Indy 500 in 2021: ‘I will miss you’

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In a letter to Indianapolis Motor Speedway customers Thursday morning, track owner Roger Penske said he is looking forward to having fans return to the Indy 500 next May

“I will miss you on Sunday,” Penske wrote. “Believe me, there is no one more than me who wanted fans to be able to watch the 104th Running of the Indy 500 in person.”

Penske said “given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Marion County, running the race
without fans was the right decision.”

PENSKE’S LETTER TO FANS: ‘I look forward to seeing you next May’

THE 104TH INDY 500How to watch Sunday’s race on NBC

The letter also touched on how the Indy 500 has shaped his life and led him to becoming a fixture at the Brickyard and in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Penske, whose cars have won a record 18 Indy 500s, attended his first race at the track in 1951, and it “made me who I am. It’s why I care so much about the Speedway and INDYCAR racing. It’s why the fan experience will always be my top priority.”

Since closing on his purchase of IMS and IndyCar in January, Penske has made multimillion-dollar improvements that included more than 30 video boards, 5G connectivity, updated concession stands and a new lift in the winner’s circle.

“More improvements, all focused on our fans, are on the way,” Penske wrote, adding that drivers still would put on “a world-class show” in Sunday’s race (1 p.m. ET, NBC) despite the disappointment of the grandstands being empty.

“Especially now, during these difficult times, gathering with friends and loved ones for cherished traditions means so much,” Penske wrote. “Hundreds of thousands of fans return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway every year, savoring the final note of “Back Home Again in Indiana” and cheering for some of the world’s greatest drivers. The roar of the crowd goes with the roar of the engines.

“I wanted you here.”

Click here to read Penske’s letter to all IMS customers that was sent Thursday morning.

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.”