INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Helio Castroneves will be in their race. See, we’ve run four races in 2018 and the popular Brazilian driver hasn’t been in any of them. The reason, is all because he’s been forced into an IMSA role.
Castroneves, was hoping to return to his seat on a full time basis in the series for 2018. Unfortunately, Team Penske was wanting to go in a different direction and shed one of their four cars as a result. He was the casualty.
But, Penske did offer Castroneves a two race deal for 2018. He could run a full IMSA slate in the new sports car program and both INDYCAR races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Castroneves, always wanted a series championship. After 20 seasons, he never got it. Even more so, he wanted that coveted fourth trip to victory lane in the Indianapolis 500 more. Penske gives him the best chance to do so.
That’s why he took a step back and will make his INDYCAR debut this weekend. While his focus is more so on winning the ‘500, don’t get him wrong, he still wants to win the INDYCAR Grand Prix (3:30 p.m. ET/ABC/INDYCAR Radio Network).
“I’m back! I’m so excited to be back with Team Penske at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in INDYCAR,” a happy Castroneves said ahead of Saturday’s race. “I’ve been really enjoying my time with the team’s IMSA program, but I’m really excited to jump back into the No. 3 Verizon Chevrolet. We have a great team of guys put together for both the INDYCAR GP and the Indianapolis 500. I’m ready to kick off the month with a road course race and get some time in the car with the new aero kit. More importantly, I’m excited to go out there and put on a great show for the fans there.”
He’s got a great chance to compete on Saturday too. He’s never finished worse than sixth in any of his four starts on the IMS road course including a runner-up effort in 2016. He was fifth last year. He’s also led laps in three of those four races too.
So, don’t discredit Castroneves as a potential race winner this weekend.