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Dancing man Castroneves ready for new IndyCar racing season

Dancing man Castroneves ready for new IndyCar racing season

Helio Castroneves is ready to dance off into the new IndyCar season.
Well, not exactly.
The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner had a very busy offseason, what with winning U.S. TV's grueling "Dancing with the Stars" competition with partner Julianne Hough and then touring with the show's other stars.
"I thought I would be worn out," Castroneves said on Wednesday before the start of two days of testing for the IRL's IndyCar Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "I would say that it looks like 2007 for me did not finish. You know, it's been so many things happened in my life. But it's a good thing."
Castroneves said the question he keeps getting asked these days is if he and Hough are a pair.
"Just a statement, man, me and Julieanne, we're not together," he said, grinning.
Getting ready for the new racing season, Castroneves, who drives for Team Penske, said he was delighted with the unification of IRL and the Champ Car World Series.
"I see the sky's the limit now," the Brazilian driver said. "Finally, we made the biggest move we were always looking for.
"Maybe this will take a little time, but 2009, probably 2010, we're going to finally start collecting what we want, which means success."
As for his other career, "Right now, I retired my dancing shoes for a moment."
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GOING HER OWN WAY: After trying for years to find rides on other people's teams, Sarah Fisher has decided it's time to go out on her own.
Fisher announced on Wednesday she formed Sarah Fisher Racing, along with partner John O'Gara, and will begin her 2008 season in May at the Indianapolis 500. The rest of the team's schedule is uncertain.
"As a first-year startup team, we know it's small," Fisher said. "We want to build the right way. Our 2009 program actually looks a lot better than our 2008 program. That's real exciting to us and, hopefully, we can be in a lot more races come that time."
Fisher, who has 67 starts and has been one of the IRL's most popular drivers since 1999, her rookie year in the series, said, "This has been in the works since August. I didn't wake up one morning and (just) do it."
She said the new team is close to signing a primary sponsor.
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SIGNING ON: Panther Racing announced on Wednesday the Dallara Honda driven by Vitor Meira will have full sponsorship from Delphi, which is returning, and team newcomer the National Guard.
That's a big step up from a couple of years ago when the team lost Pennzoil as its primary sponsor and had to auction off equipment to survive.
"It's very hard to have a major sponsor go away after nine years," said Panther co-owner Mike Griffin. "We had a team meeting and ... announced the fact that the primary sponsor was leaving. We told everybody on the team, `If you have a family, a wife, kids, whatever, find a job. Winter is going to be a long time. We don't know if we're going to be here.'
"We managed to put it together and persevere and keep going," he added. "As the new season started, every one of these guys that had left the team called and said, `I'd like to come back.' That was the biggest vote of confidence for me."
The longtime IRL team won two series championships with Sam Hornish Jr., but hasn't had the same success in recent years. Griffin is hoping that this is the start of a renewal.
"We've been able to, as a result of our new partners, our new situation, spend some time in the wind tunnel, which we haven't done for a couple of years," Griffin said.
"It all costs money. So this has enabled us to take on those opportunities as well. We're very excited about it. ... We see no reason why we can't win the championship again."


Updated : 2021-04-13 06:55 GMT+08:00