Castroneves looks to capitalize in Canada 0
Helio Castroneves says the IndyCar races in Toronto and Edmonton are crucial for his chase for the series championship. (AFP)
Helio Castroneves is within striking distance of an IndyCar series championship.
And heading into this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto event, the Brazilian driver wants to stay there.
Especially considering how well he’s traditionally fared in Edmonton, which is the following stop on the circuit.
“Our goal is to win the championship and we have few more races to go and we want to keep running well,” Castroneves said on Tuesday. “I think as long as we keep the opportunity alive, we have a good chance.
“We’re only 25 points behind, which is very, very possible to make up. I’ve seen teams be a lot worse than that that go on to almost win the championship.”
Driving for Team Penske, Castroneves heads into Toronto fourth in the points standings behind Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay and teammate Will Power, who is the current leader.
After nine races, there are only 30 points separating first and fifth spot.
“They key is to be consistent and keep getting a little bit better each race,” Castroneves said. “So far, I’m happy with how the year has gone, although I’m a little upset with the results we had in Milwaukee and Iowa. I thought we could have accomplished something more that just sixth place in both those races. I’m happy in a way with the way things have gone, but I know we can do better.”
Castroneves started the season on the right note, winning the opening event in St. Petersburg, Fla.
He then earned the pole at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and went on to finish third. It was his only other podium finish thus far this season.
Castroneves did manage a fourth-place finish in Sao Paulo, which he considers one of his best races of the season, having to start from the 18th position.
Being the hometown hero, there was a lot of pressure on Castroneves to do well in Brazil.
“That was an amazing experience,” Castroneves said. “I was so happy with what we did and to see the fans and how they supported me. The track was great and the organizers did a great job.
“I couldn’t believe where we started, it was the worst start position of the year and I couldn’t believe it, especially being in front of my home crowd. But being able to go on and finish fourth was like a victory to me.”
Following Brazil, Castroneves finished 10th at the Indy 500 and 17th in Detroit before posting respectable finishes in three consecutive oval circuits. Castroneves was seventh at the Firestone 500 in Fort Worth, Texas before his two sixth-place finishes in Milwaukee and Iowa.
With a road course in Toronto and an airport track in Edmonton, the landscape now changes and the degree of difficulty increases.
“That’s what makes it really hard,” Castroneves said. “Toronto is a place that I really enjoy, but unfortunately I’ve never really had a really solid result there.
“On a course like that, you want to be aggressive, but at the same time, finish high in the points. It’s funny because Edmonton has been the opposite. I’ve only been outside of the top eight once and that was because of a bad call. Other than that we’ve always done very well there.”
Castroneves finished second last year in Edmonton and actually crossed the finish line first the year before, but was penalized for a perceived block on his teammate towards the end of the race.
Regardless, the two races in Canada could go a long way in his title chase.
“I feel as though these next two race are going to be crucial for us to have a chance to win the championship,” Castroneves said. “We have to make sure that we have the car set up well and let things go naturally.”