Helio Castroneves enjoying sports cars, no word on 2020 Indy 500

Helio Castroneves, 44, is racing royalty who will forever be known for his ‘spider man act’ after winning races.

Well, his first fence climb came in Detroit on Belle Isle in 2000. That have been 29 more open-wheel wins since, including 2001 at Belle Isle. Autoweek caught up with Castroneves this weekend on Belle Isle following his third-pace finish in Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Seies race.

Autoweek: You just came off a podium finish at the 2019 Detroit IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race for Acura Team Penske, it was the team car that won the race, from your perspective, do you feel like it should have been your car in front?

Helio Castroneves: Yeah, obviously, it’s a competition. Even though we are a team, you are still an individual. Ricky (Taylor) felt like we had a good opportunity, especially when the pits came, then, Dane (Cameron) (in the other Acura Penske car) did a really good job pushing to the limit. But we felt that we had a legitimate chance to win the race. However, there’s only one winner, nothing you can do about it. We kept in the family, at least now Dane and Juan Pablo (Montoya) moved up in the championship (they’re now second, five points behind the leaders). We’re still right there and still a lot of races to go, so, hopefully, we’ll recoup that and I’m sure our turn will come.

AW: It seems like the Heavens above have spoken about which is the favored race series between IMSA and Indycar, your race was dry, the podium ceremony was dry, and then the skies opened and it started raining.

HC: Yeah, we were very lucky to have the dry weather before the Indycar race. However, it is what it is, as we were prepared even if it was wet. I believe after Sebring we made huge improvements in the wet situations. We’re looking forward to keep going. Great momentum, obviously, and, you’re right, Dane and Montoya in the six car got two wins, but we are right there.

AW: The weather. It was cloudy, but very warm and humid. Did that affect what you guys thought would’ve been the ideal setup, were you guys prepared for cooler and dryer temperatures, warmer track, anything?

HC: We were prepared for both, even the rain, because all the view in terms of weather forecast were saying we were going to have rain 30 minutes before the end. We didn’t feel that anything actually went wrong, the competitors are always very good, hopefully the BOP (Balance of Performance) stays fair that we can compete. Last year they took a lot of horsepower away from us and that was tough, it hurt the rest of the season. Hopefully we’ll continue to be competitive. Sometimes a lot of things go outside of our control, but that happens to everyone, so hopefully we’ll be in good shape.

AW: You had a very busy month of May and it has to be your favorite month. Obviously, your heart is still in Indycar. You kind of wear your emotions on your sleeve in that sense.

HC: Hard to hide it!

AW: You had the Indycar GP and the Indianapolis 500. It wasn’t as strong of a performance as you’ve so often had. How did the month of May go from your perspective?

HC: We always do the Grand Prix to make sure that mistakes happen so they don’t happen at the big race. Unfortunately, it happened in the pits coming out, I put on the rain tires, did not expect it to be that slippery, and unfortunately, made a mistake. But that’s why we prepare for that. Even the pits, we were able to fix a few things that we found, so we don’t have problems at the 500. However, we come for our first pitstop in the 500 we had a situation with the 33 car going under the pit speed limit

AW: That whole situation was really bizarre.

HC: Completely. And exactly because of that, I’d never been in that situation before in my entire career, I didn’t know if I was allowed to pass in the slow lane or not, I didn’t want to get penalized for that.

AW: Are you going to be there next year?

HC: I hope so. Haven’t talked to Roger yet. It should be the right moment, everyone is happy with the win now, but we haven’t discussed that yet.

HC: Watkins Glen is a place that we feel we’re going to be really fast. I need to redeem myself, last year was the first one that I’ve been there and the track was very challenging for me. However, I am looking forward to go back there. And I think Petit Le Mans is another place that we will be strong.

As long as they (IMSA officials) don’t touch anything with the (Balance of Performance). Elkart Lake (Road America) is another place that I feel we can battle for wins. Last year was horrible, they took so much power away that we could not even touch anybody. Still, a lot of things can happen and we gotta be there so that the door can open and we can take a win and, hopefully, the U.S. championship.

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