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Castroneves Joins Penske’s IMSA Squad For 2018

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In a move that was expected by most for several weeks, three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves will continue his racing career in sports cars.

The Brazilian, known equally for his success on ABC’s hit show “Dancing With the Stars,” will join two-time Brickyard winner Juan Pablo Montoya, IMSA veteran Dane Cameron, and a fourth driver, piloting a pair of Acura ARX-05s in the headline Daytona Prototype International classification. The change in scenery will not completely keep the popular pilot out of the Verizon IndyCar Series, as he will participate in next year’s Greatest Spectacle in Racing and also in the IndyCar Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course layout.

While Castroneves has been unable to win a driver’s title in either CART or IndyCar action, the oval-track specialist found the winner’s circle 29 times since joining the Penske squad in the year 2000. 2017 was another solid season for Helio, in addition to his victory at Iowa Speedway, the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet collected seven other top-five finishes and placed in the top-ten in all but one of the 17 rounds. Despite the consistency, the effort was only good enough to put the Brazilian fourth on the final points table.

Although the veteran will make only two appearences in IndyCar next season, Castroneves is ready to tackle a new circuit.

“I’ve been fortunate to achieve a lot of my personal goals with Team Penske over the years,” said Castroneves in a statement released by the team. “Helping Roger, the team and everyone with Acura start this program and build it from the ground up will be another big challenge and a great opportunity in my career.”

The Sao Paolo native will get a test run in preparation for 2018 this weekend as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship closes out its schedule with the ten-hour, Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. The move to sports car action is one which team owner Roger Penske believes will prolong Castroneves’ career.

“This gives Helio a longer future in his racing career,” said Penske. “He’s been with us as the longest-tenured driver, and I think the fact that he gets to go back to the Indy 500 again in 2018 and also will run in the road race the weekend before gives him the chance to stay with one foot in IndyCar, but also a chance to bring our Acura sports car team into championships hopefully as we go forward over the next however many years.”

With the loss of Castroneves, Team Penske will feature only three full-time drivers in IndyCar for 2018. However, defending series champion Josef Newgarden, as well former titleholders Simon Pagenaud, and Will Power will likely enter the new campaign as the early favorites to once again lift the Astor Cup next September.

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Matt Embury

An auto racing writer for over five years, Matt Embury's interest in auto racing was influenced from his father's side of the family. His first recollection of live racing attendance was in the early 1990s watching winged sprint car action at Butler Motor Speedway in Michigan with his uncle and dad.

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