IndyCar Preseason, Day 2: Helio Castroneves addresses racing future, says 2023 is ‘huge’ Saturday’s Supercross Round 6 in Tampa: How to watch, start times, streaming info
PALM SPRINGS, California. Entering what could be the last season of his NTT IndyCar Series career, Helio Castroneves has of course marked one race as the key to his future.
And this, of course, can seal his plans with another record victory.
“Obviously it’s a big event — it’s the Indianapolis 500,” the four-time Indy 500 winner said in pre-season media interviews last week. “It’s that we feel like we have the same car. We’re betting on it. However, I’m not going to give up on others. I feel that we have as much chance as anyone in some places where I feel comfortable. Finishing in the top 12 (on points) would be a great goal.
“However, we want to be able to get on the podium. We want to show what we are capable of and we can.”
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Castroneves signed a one-year deal to return to Dallara-Honda with No. 06 Meyer Shank Racing after finishing 18.th in the 2022 standings, the worst result for a Brazilian in an entire year in IndyCar. Castroneves managed a seventh-place finish in the Indy 500 (recovering from a test crash) and only two other top 10 spots in 17 starts.
This marked the first time since Castroneves entered the CART ChampCar Series in 1998 that he failed to finish on the podium for a full season (he competed part-time in 2018-20 with IMSA).
While he dodged questions about how critical the results will be to retaining his seat beyond 2023, Castroneves admits it’s been a “huge” season for him. MSR has updated the roster with new data people and a new engineer for Castroneves, who turns 48 in May. While MSR already had difficulty adding a second stock car along with Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud last season, expectations are high for a quick fix.
“Everyone understands when you go through this, even if it’s one year, people think it’s a long time, but hey, we’re talking about teams that have been together for a long, long time, years of experience and communication, and everything is in sync” , said Castroneves, who made six starts (including his fourth Indy 500 win) for MSR in 2021.
“Despite what we did for us in 2021, all these people were part-time and we need to start over. It was the first time we had two cars in a team. The dynamics have changed. Now we keep moving forward. It is important for us to be a part of this process, to be patient. Yeah, I can’t wait for things to start getting better so we can show off at the racetrack.”
Besides ending the year on a dismal note and he is in his 40s against riders who are more than 20 years his junior, the stakes are also high for Castroneves because there is a known and obvious candidate to replace him in 2024.
Tom Blomqvist, who won the Rolex 24 at Daytona with the Castroneves for the second consecutive season, was praised for his championship-level performances in the top prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. He also has a strong interest in IndyCar racing and was tested at MSR last October.
This has led to some speculation that MSR could broker a deal between the IndyCar and IMSA teams that could trade Blomqvist for Castroneves next year.
“First, it’s too early to tell,” Castroneves said. “Secondly, I want nothing but great success for this team. This team is incredible. They were already churning out that they weren’t just a small team. They said they are an incredible team. That amazing things will happen in the future.
“Tom, come on, the guy is a superstar. He is very fast. He does amazing work. He did a great job last year; continued to do so this year. Let’s get a look. Everything happens and falls naturally. But at this point in the season it is too early to predict and think what will happen. Our goal is to achieve phenomenal results with MSR to show what this team is capable of.”
Castroneves has already resurrected his IndyCar career once (he seemed to have stopped working as a full-time driver after 2017 before his Brickyard triumph), and the Dancing with the Stars winner seems ageless, so it’s hard to bet against him or his will. keep going – especially after three consecutive Rolex 24 victories.
“Do you think I’m thinking about retiring right now?” Castroneves said, forcing a smile. — No… there is no thought about it. It should be natural. I can’t force myself. I can’t put a number or a date where I can say that’s it. At the moment I really like what I do. I’m about to start a great season with IndyCar and that’s all I can think of. I’m just going to keep working and get the result that I really want, that I know I’m capable of and I know what the team is capable of. What happens in the future remains to be seen.”
In the short term, he’s optimistic that he and Pagenaud can improve last season’s MSR tire wear. Although in the pre-season tests at The Thermal Club, his speed was average (Castroneves was 18 years old).th fastest on day two), Castroneves believes the alliance with Andretti Autosport will bring more results in 2023.
“You are always looking for improvements,” he said. “The good news is that last year we finished 18th in the championship. This is not where we want to be. However, we feel that in some areas we could achieve better results, but the race, as always, is unpredictable. But we only look forward and feel that the season will be much better. The expectation is obviously always to succeed, but we also understand the possibility that things will not go according to plan.
“But I feel like this is the plan. It takes some time to gather some of the information we want, our alliances with Andretti Autosport are also still very strong. They also know that they need to improve. It’s not just in our organization. We still keep pushing each other to get the best result, like Andretti did in the past. They have their engineers, their resources, they are translating it to us and we are looking forward to a better season and hope for the best.”
A roundup of other nuggets from Day 2 of the IndyCar pre-season press conference on Feb. 1 at the Palm Springs Convention Center:
With the Penske team announcing expanded sponsorship with Verizon, the future looks safe for reigning series champion Will Power (who signed a long-term extension in 2021) after a tumultuous off-season for the No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet driver. Power broke his ribs in a karting accident (but was able to recover quickly) and was also forced to forfeit his Rolex 24 debut last month after his wife Liz was hospitalized.
Will Power confirmed that she is back home and “much better than (mid-January), but I think we’ll know for sure in five weeks if her blood remains sterile. She gained a lot of weight due to being in pretty bad shape.”
Incredibly grateful for all the support @Verizon gave me throughout my career.
Glad to continue! https://t.co/EUTfZ5Baer
— Willpower (@12WillPower) February 7, 2023
elimination of double points for Indy 500 could change the calculation of this season’s championship race, but Josef Newgarden already had plans for a major overhaul.. The two-time series champion, who has been runner-up for three consecutive seasons, said his goal for 2023 is to end IndyCar’s 17-year streak of champion determination in the season finale.
“It definitely gnaws at me,” the Team Penske star, who had five series wins to Power’s one in 2022, said of his recent misses to add a third title. “It’s annoying, no doubt about it. How could you not be upset about this? I’m trying to take the frustration and just turn it into motivation. How are we going to increase the gap (in points) where it’s not even possible? I don’t even want to mess with it at the end of the year. In an ideal world, if we get to the end of the season where we don’t have to deal with the gap, if we can just get it out of the way, that would be ideal. That’s where my thinking is, how do we get to the place where it’s not even on the table. It’s just done.
“I’m not so arrogant to believe that it’s easy. This seems almost impossible to do these days. I think it really is. This is very difficult to do. I understand it. But I still want to find a way to get to a place where we don’t have to mess with it. I don’t think it will be easy, but we need to figure out how to do it. I’m so sure that when we have a year where we have a good time combined with great speed and decisions, it will be a great year. It will be really great. Much better than last year.”
Conor Daly’s statement trying to make his Daytona 500 debut (along with other Cup races for TMT) last week was foreshadowed by driver Ed Carpenter Racing. Unlike Castroneves, who was thinking about racing at Daytona with the same team, Daly said he can’t be selective about his options.. “I previously spoke to a young man named Helio Castroneves, and I think that this opportunity may present itself to him at any time,” Daly said. “But for me, I don’t know if…