- On July 22, it was announced that Helio Castroneves, 46, will be racing for Meyer Shank Racing next season for the full season.
- Meanwhile, NTT IndyCar Series drivers are using simulators to best prepare for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, which is scheduled for August 8.
- Hailing from Tennessee, Josef Newgarden is both a field runner and an ambassador for IndyCar’s latest street race.
The cat is out of the bag, or more precisely, the hair color is out of the bottle.
Josef Newgarden will be the first to tell you that Helio Castroneves is the real Silver Fox of IndyCar. Former teammate and 2015 NTT IndyCar Series Champion Newgarden took the time on Friday to stop for the upcoming Big Machine Music City Grand Prix which will take place through the streets of Nashville on August 8 to share his thoughts on the return of Castroneves on the circuit on a full time basis in 2022.
First, however, Newgarden revealed a little secret to the media. And we’re not good at keeping secrets.
“Old Silver Fox Helio,” Newgarden said Automatic week. “You know he paints his hair. I think he should just let it go. I think if he let it be silver he would be so much cooler. It’s the silver fox. He has to let this thing fly.
On Thursday it was announced that Castroneves, 46, will be racing for Meyer Shank Racing next season for the entire IndyCar season. The deal includes the chance for Castroneves to repeat the Indianapolis 500 and claim what would be a record fifth Indianapolis 500 victory. A fifth victory would break the tie with AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears atop the one of the most exclusive lists of the race.
“I’m excited for Helio,” said Newgarden, 30. “There is obviously a lot of room for him on the grid. He’s one of the best, absolutely one of the best. If it wasn’t us who won the 500, it was so much fun to see Helio get the number 4.
“We’re not going to tip him, though. He’s had enough tips in his life. He will have to find out now in a new full-time team.
As for the next street race in Nashville, less than a 30-minute drive from Newgarden’s hometown of Hendersonvile, Tennessee, Newgarden says the unknowns always trump the known. The temporary 2.17-mile street circuit is highlighted by a long straight line over the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Cumberland River.
“Running this one, I think, could be a really exciting race track,” Newgarden said. “The section of the bridge is made up of two very long straight lines. One of those straights, Turn 1 is what we’ll call it, is an extremely wide entry point. Looks like Cleveland Turn 1 used to appear in a huge straight. I don’t know, and we won’t know until we get there, but the race is pretty high for this track. We’ll see how the tires behave and all that stuff too. “
Newgarden can’t afford to spend too much time trying to figure out the race lines and passing zones on IndyCar’s new downtown street circuit. He entered the race sixth in the points standings, ahead of leader Alex Palou by 69 points with only six races to go in the championship.
“We have to perform well,” Newgarden said. “There are six races to go in our championship. Everyone is critical. We are not in a perfect position, point of view, but in the fight and every race is going to count now leading to the final. “
Newgarden said early successes on a new circuit, which teams have yet to collect data on, comes in part to hours on a simulator to give drivers and teams their best guess as to what to expect. .
“It’s a lot of simulator time,” Newgarden said. “What’s cool is that this is probably the most useful time we’ll have for the simulator all year round. Really, when you want a simulator, it’s when you go somewhere new that you never seen before, never driven, so we really tried to get everything right in the model.
“Even now (the model) changes every time I’m there. I was in the simulator probably a week ago, and now there’s the whole skyline written in it, and it’s like: “Oh wow, I can Nashville now. ‘It gets a little better every time you show up.
“We’re just trying to make sure and get a feel for what we need before we show up. But it’s flawed science. We try to simulate these worlds as best we can, but it’s never perfect so much. that you don’t actually drive the car. and you have something to compare it to. We do our best to guess, if you will. And then I hope that gets us into a pretty good pace where I know in some way. so where I’m supposed to go, I have an idea where I’m supposed to brake, where I’m going to go up and down, and then hopefully that cuts down on the learning time so you can hit the ground running pretty quickly. “
After that, it’s about keeping it real.
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