It doesn’t seem possible that HELIO CASTRONEVES will be racing for Team Penske this weekend in the IndyCar race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. A partial verdict was reached Thursday in Day Five of jury deliberations in his federal tax evasion court case in Miami FL; but until a decision is reached on all seven counts, the verdicts will be sealed by the judge. A partial verdict was also reached on two of the six counts against his sister and business manager, KATUICIA CASTRONEVES, which were also sealed, along with the verdict on all counts for their attorney, ALAN MILLER.
Team Owner, ROGER PENSKE, had said that if Castroneves was cleared of the charges, his ride would be available at Long Beach. In the meantime, WILL POWER has been filling in. Power knew Thursday afternoon of the verdicts. When asked what was his situation if Castroneves returned to race, Power was unsure, including the possibility of a third Penske car for the Indy 500. In the meantime, he’s enjoying racing with the well-funded, front-running team. The young Australian is concentrating on this race, which he characterizes as a physical race, where one can’t make mistakes. Getting the strategy right is his biggest challenge, including qualifying. It’s all about the tires, and whether he has to use reds in the first session. Power would like to get the pole, but isn’t sure. He won last year’s Long Beach Champ Car World Series race, after leading 81 of the 83 laps. It was the last-ever CCWS race, but it counted for IndyCar points as it occurred right after unification of the two open wheel series.
Power’s teammate, RYAN BRISCOE, also of Australia, won the IndyCar season’s opener race two weeks ago in St. Petersburg.
KV Racing Technology has scheduled a Friday noon press conference at Long Beach, where it is expected that the IndyCar team will announce that veteran Canadian indy car driver, PAUL TRACY, will run this year’s Indianapolis 500. Some rumors have the feisty driver racing in ‘selected’ races – maybe the Canadian venues, where he remains very popular.
Thursday the Long Beach weather was warmer and far less windy, with promises of better weather to come.
The American Le Mans Series had two hours of testing Thursday afternoon. LMP1 Acura ARX 02a drivers were fastest overall in each of the two sessions. SIMON PAGENAUD/No.66 de Ferran Motorsports was quickest in the first session, and DAVID BRABHAM/No.9 Patron Highcroft Racing was fastest in the second. The other fastest in class drivers in the first session were LUIS DIAZ/No.15 Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01B-LMP2; JAN MAGNUSSEN/No.3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6-R-GT1; and PATRICK LONG/No.45 Flying Lizards Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in GT2. In the second session, the fastest LMP2 driver was ADRIAN FERNANDEZ/No.15 Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura; OLIVIER BERETTA/No.4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette-GT1; and JAIME MELO/No.62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT-Gt2.
Official practice and qualifying begins at 8 am PDT Friday on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street course.