Thursday, July 13, 2017

18 years in racing heaven

Helio Castroneves won the Indycar race in Iowa, and has dislodged his reigning champion teammate Simon Pagenaud in second place. There is starting to be talk that it would be ironic if he was to be replaced after winning the championship this year. Throughout his hall of fame career that has been the only knock on Castroneves' career - not winning a championship.

But the notion of Helio being ousted from Indycar is not of course without merit. Ever since Penske Racing moved to Indycar from CART, the only multi year full time drivers not to win a title for the team are Ryan Briscoe - whose moment of inattention after a pit stop at Motegi cost him the title in his second season with the team in 2009, and Juan Pablo Montoya who would have won the title had it not been for the double points at the last race of the season at Sonoma in 2015. All other drivers have won at least one crown for the Captain, Sam Hornish, Will Power, snd Simon Pagenaud. Joseph Newgarden is lining up for his ring fitting in the next few years.

Helio is in his 18th season with the team. He has become a very popular driver in the series and has won 3 Indy 500 races. Those accolades has enabled him to remain firmly entrenched in the Penske organization. Perhaps that confidence in his racing future has also worked against him. Maybe he played it safe sometimes instead of attacking, since he almost always approached the end of the season knowing what was next for him the following season.

Before the question of why should he be let go if he wins the title is answered, the question that should first be asked is should be allowed to win the title? Despite being second in the championship, can he be trusted or counted on to really mount a charge to deliver results in the crunch against Scott Dixon?

We already have our answer from 15 competitive seasons out of 18 for team Penske. Helio has had his chances. If he were to win the title, we think Helio himself should retire on a high note rather than be forced out. In case he isn't able to sustain his championship charge he should do his best to make sure Pagenaud or another Penske driver wins it for his beloved boss.