INDIANAPOLIS – Helio Castroneves always wanted a Verizon IndyCar Series championship. After 344 career starts in 20 years, he never found it. So, Roger Penske offered him the next best thing in the offseason, drive for his new IMSA program and come back to Indy and chase a record tying fourth Indianapolis 500 crown.
But, first things first, he had a race in the INDYCAR Grand Prix. That’s not like it was a bad thing though. But, with a new car in 2018, the only time the popular Brazilian had any seat time was in a brief Barber test two months ago and in the oval test here last week.
Now, he leaves his first race in this new with an impressive sixth place finish in his No. 3 Chevrolet. That has Castroneves pumped for his Indy 500 chances in two weeks.
“It was really good,” Castroneves said of his first race back. “Definitely just like I never left. It was great strategy from the team. We started from the black (tires) and took a gamble. It wasn’t worth it to try to fight. I knew it would come back and it did. Great to be back in Indianapolis.”
Out of the four Penske cars, Castroneves finished the race second among the group. Was it a statement that he should have never left?
“It’s great,” Castroneves explained about that question. “Everyone did a great job. Will (Power) was unbeatable this weekend. Maybe Will wants me to come back. Every time I come back he’s dominating. RP (Roger Penske) did a great job on the timing stand. To finish sixth you could only imagine when we’re really ready for the ‘500.
“Expectations are high my friend. I never come in with expectations are low. This is just to prove that everyone was ready.