Helio Castroneves hasn’t visited Victory Lane since 2014. He’s in the midst of a 40-race winless drought.
But Castroneves remains “Kung Fu confident” in his abilities as a driver and has every intention of challenging for the checkered flag when the IndyCar Firestone 600 resumes Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
40 Helio Castroneves current winless drought in IndyCar series
“Just got to go for it,” Castroneves said in a telephone interview earlier this week. “Let’s go to Texas and get that win.”
Castroneves will restart seventh in the race that has been on hold for 76 days. Mother Nature didn’t do TMS or IndyCar any favors for the race on June 11, as they managed to get in only 71 laps.
The race was red-flagged and is scheduled to resume at 8:15 p.m. The drivers will complete the final 177 laps, more than enough time for Castroneves to work his way to the front.
And there’s no reason to think Castroneves can’t pull it off. He is the best open-wheel driver in TMS history.
Castroneves holds the track record for most wins (4), top 5s (10), top 10s (14) and laps led (499).
“The track is very fast, the wind is always a part of it,” Castroneves said. “I just enjoy it. You’ve got to adjust yourself throughout the race, including tire degradation, and be on top of your game.”
Castroneves also remains hopeful to fight his way back into the championship picture with two races remaining after Texas.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 champion has accomplished just about everything a driver could want in IndyCar except win a championship.
And his championship dreams suffered a blow last week at Pocono when he was involved in a bizarre accident on pit road. But Castroneves isn’t feeling sorry for himself and isn’t counting himself out.
“We can’t predict things outside of our control,” Castroneves said. “We cannot think about that. We’ve just got to go put ourselves in good position to win the race.”
Castroneves sits fifth in the points standings, 113 behind leader and Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud. That’s a steep climb this late in the season.
You can never say never.
Helio Castroneves on his championship dreams
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“Yeah, but you can never say never,” Castroneves said. “Still have a chance mathematically, especially with the last race being 100 points. We definitely are going to need to have a big jump and just have to wait and see what happens.”
Another Castroneves teammate, 2014 champion Will Power, might have a more realistic chance to unseat Pagenaud from the top spot. Power is only 20 points behind, and will restart fourth.
Pagenaud will restart 15th. That means there could be plenty of championship movement at the conclusion of the race.
“[Re]starting fourth in Texas puts us in great position to continue our momentum,” said Power, fresh off a win at Pocono. “The whole team is clicking on all cylinders now and you have to get all you can when it’s going that way.”
8:15 p.m. Saturday, NBCSN
Note: Race resumes on Lap 72, with 177 laps remaining.