Indy 500 still in Castroneves' plans despite move to sports car program

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Helio Castroneves will move from a full-time effort in the Verizon IndyCar Series to sports cars in 2018, but he is expected to compete again in the Indianapolis 500, which he has won three times.

Team Penske announced today that Castroneves will join the team’s new Acura Team Penske program that will begin racing in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Castroneves will join Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron in one of two Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype International (DPi) entries next season.

Castroneves will return to sports cars this weekend, joining Montoya and 20176 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud in the 20th anniversary Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta driving an ORECA-07. Pagenaud will remain a full-time INDYCAR driver for Team Penske in 2018.

“I’ve been fortunate to achieve a lot of my personal goals with Team Penske over the years,” said Castroneves, who is also the longest-tenured driver in team history. “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. I am proud of everything we have accomplished together in INDYCAR.”

“I’m also excited to get a chance to race again for Team Penske at the Indianapolis 500. That race is near and dear to my heart and trying to become the fourth four-time winner is something I really want to accomplish in my career. We’ve come so close the last few years and with this team, I know we will have a great opportunity to try and make some history.”

Team owner Roger Penske praised Castroneves’ contributions to the team and said he looked forward to the new chapter.

“Helio has been a valuable member of Team Penske for almost 20 years and we are looking forward to sharing more success together,” Penske said. “Competitors like Helio, Rick Mears and Mark Donohue are what have made Team Penske what it is today. This represents a new challenge for him and I know he is excited about the opportunity. Having established winning drivers like Helio and Juan, teaming up with young and talented racers that know the series like Dane Cameron, will help give our new sports car program a solid foundation as we head into the 2018 season.”

Castroneves has raced for Team Penske for 18 seasons. He drove for Bettenhausen Motorsports in his rookie Indy car season in 1998 and for Hogan Racing in 1999, before joining Team Penske in 2000. Castroneves finished fourth in this year’s championship standings, the 14th time in his career he has finished inside the top five in the final standings. Castroneves has 30 wins -- all with Team Penske, giving him the most wins in team history. He also has collected 50 pole positions in his career (tied for third all time).

Castroneves is one of just 10 drivers to win three or more Indianapolis 500s. His wins came in 2001, 2002 and 2009. He also has competed in five sports car races for the team, including a class victory at Petit Le Mans in 2008.

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