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VICS: Castroneves Seeks Elusive IndyCar Title in 17th Season with Team Penske

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Heading into this weekend’s Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway, Helio Castroneves finds himself in an all too familiar position – second in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings.

Castroneves is in the middle of a Team Penske sandwich, as Simon Pagenaud has a commanding lead in the standings and Will Power trails Castroneves by just seven points.

While Pagenaud has three victories this season and Power has two, Castroneves has two podium finishes but has yet to visit victory lane. The Sao Paulo, Brazil native has finished in the runner-up spot of the championship standings in 2008, 2013 and 2014.

“The season has been great, but to win the championship we have to win a race. Man, I want to get the championship as bad as anybody. We’ve been so close so many times,” Castroneves told Rubbings Racing this week.

“You can’t be frustrated. You just have to keep doing your job and that win one day is going to show up. We want to keep pushing as hard as we can.

“Simon (Pagenaud) is on a roll. He was able to get very good results at the beginning of the season and now obviously he’s able to manage the lead. Regarding Will, there is no question he is always there. He put it together again at Road America and was in a league of his own. We just have to keep moving forward. We can’t think about who is in the back we just have to keep thinking about who is in front and Simon is the guy that we’ve got to keep pushing.”

Castroneves and Team Penske will look to put an end to the dominance of Andretti Autosport this weekend at Iowa Speedway. The Andretti organization has won seven of the previous nine races at the 7/8-mile track dubbed “The Fastest Short Track on the Planet,” including the last six in a row.

“Yeah, I hope so,” Castroneves said when asked if they would have something for the Andretti drivers. “They’ve definitely been very good. We really hope that we can beat those guys. This year is going to be a little bit different since it is a day race. We need to have a consistent car from the beginning to the end. I feel like that’s what we have to do.”

While Castroneves has led laps in seven of the nine races at Iowa and has two Verizon P1 Awards, he’s winless with just one podium finish. Castroneves also holds the one-lap qualifying record, set in July 2014, with a blistering lap at 186.809 mph.

Castroneves is one of just four drivers to have competed in every Verizon IndyCar Series race at Iowa and this weekend will make his 321st career start, which will break a tie with Al Unser for fourth on the all-time list. All the more impressive, this season marks Castroneves’ 17th with Team Penske.

“Oh man, I can’t thank this team enough… this entire organization,” Castroneves said of what it means to drive for a top team for this many years. “It’s an honor to have not only the best people surround you but to be in the best team in motorsports. So, I definitely feel honored.

“It’s a great match between myself and Team Penske. I can’t thank those guys enough. It’s a great mix. At the end of the day Roger (Penske) is looking for the best result as possible so we feel like we understand that this year we have to bring this championship to Roger no matter what.”

At the age of 41, Castroneves isn’t thinking about hanging up his helmet any time in the near future.

In my career, I feel that the sky is still the limit. I feel like I still have more to give, not only to myself but also to the fans and I’m going to continue looking that way. According to the competition we are still pretty strong. I want to win as bad as anybody man, I don’t care what they say but I want to win as bad as anybody.”

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About Brian Eberly

Brian Eberly (@beberly18) is a Certified Public Accountant and Manager of Field Accounting at a transportation company, but when he isn’t at the office you can most likely find him at a racetrack, watching a race on television, or following the action on social media. Eberly became interested in NASCAR in the nineties when Jeff Gordon was dominating the scene, and became hooked when he attended his first race with his dad in 1999 at Michigan International Speedway. Eberly has been writing about NASCAR since 2012 for various websites. An Illinois native and Northern Illinois University graduate, Eberly travels throughout the Midwest covering racing events in multiple series. When not following racing, he can be found on the golf course (usually trying to find his golf ball) and following the Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs, Bulls, and of course the NIU Huskies.

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