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For fun-loving Castroneves, winning a race and IndyCar Series title next on his dance card

For fun-loving Castroneves, winning a race and IndyCar Series title next on his dance card

Helio Castroneves spent time this week catching passes from NFL quarterback Tony Romo and visiting new friend Terrell Owens at the Dallas Cowboys' practice facility.
Some people know Castroneves more for winning TV's "Dancing With the Stars" than anything the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion has done in the cockpit of a racing car.
For all the fun the Brazilian has away from the race track, what Castroneves really wants to do is win races _ and an IndyCar Series championship.
Castroneves still hasn't won a season title, not in four seasons in CART or in IndyCar since switching open-wheel series in 2002. He hasn't won a race in more than a year, a 21-race winless streak that is the longest in his IndyCar Series career.
But Castroneves is the only driver with top-five finishes in all six races this season. That is good enough to put him second in season points, 28 behind Scott Dixon.
"I want to win the championship, but I want to win a race too," Castroneves said. "You know always something has happened and we didn't quite break through yet. We keep waiting for the right moment."
Maybe that will be at Texas in the Bombardier Learjet 550 on Saturday, a week after his new Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe got his first IndyCar Series victory at the Milwaukee Mile.
"He's going to win races this year, for sure," Briscoe said. "I probably needed the win more than he did. Hopefully, now I can get a bit of his consistency and maybe he will get a win."
So what about his teammate beating Castroneves to Victory Lane this season?
"He's a great guy, he's a fast guy. I always said that since the beginning," Castroneves said. "He finally got his break. For us too, the team. It's benefiting me as well because it's going to push me, make the team work ... harder."
Castroneves has won twice at the 1 1/2-mile (2.4-kilometer), high-banked Texas track, and has three other top-five finishes in nine previous starts. This time, he qualified second and will start on the front row outside polesitter Dixon.
The track will be a bit more crowded on Saturday with a record-tying 28 cars entered. That is the most since the IRL season finale in 2002, but there had been no more than 22 cars for the last seven races in Texas, with only 20 last year.
Castroneves said he's not overly concerned about more traffic, though he hopes the inexperienced drivers figure out how different things are.
"You might face more of a challenge because some of the drivers don't understand the system," he said. "They might want to battle with you side-by-side, and that's not going to take you anywhere in the beginning of the race. ... My advice, which I give some of them that come and ask about it, is just learn. You need to finish the race to understand."
The goal for Castroneves is to stay up front and avoid the traffic in the back packs. While he hasn't finished lower then fifth, he wants to do better.
"Consistency, that's what we're doing right now. Finishing top five every race seems to be the key for us," he said. "When the car gets right, we're going to go for the win. ... We're headed in the right direction. We want to win, but we want to win the championship as well."


Updated : 2021-01-16 01:23 GMT+08:00