Helio Castroneves is a Team Penske Champion

November 16, 2020

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“I loved you on Dancing With The Stars!”

Wherever Helio Castroneves goes, he always seems to hear that message. Whether it’s autograph sessions at the race track, appearances for his sponsors or even casual lunches around his hometown in Ft. Lauderdale, the popular Brazilian racer has been hearing those words just about every day for well over a decade. For a man that has won three Indianapolis 500-Mile Races – one of only 10 men with three or more victories in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing – it still amazes him that he is as known as much for his Mirrorball Trophy for winning the fifth season of Dancing With The Stars as his driving talent. Castroneves still has the moves though, on the dance floor or in a race car.  

Over the course of his 21 seasons as a driver for Team Penske, Castroneves produced a resume many drivers would love to call their own. In addition to the three Indy 500 wins, the relentlessly positive racer has also amassed 30 wins in the NTT IndyCar Series and six wins in sports car competition while becoming the longest-tenured driver in the 54-year history of Team Penske and one of motorsports’ greatest ambassadors with his infectious personality.

With all that he has accomplished in his distinguished, many people just assume that Castroneves has won several championships as well. Their looks turn incredulous when they are told, in fact, that heading into the 12 Hours of Sebring on Saturday a series title of any kind had eluded Castroneves. It had to be considered one of the greatest injustices in racing history.

At Sebring, the racing gods made everything right with the world.        

In one of the most dramatic championship races in recent memory, Castroneves, Ricky Taylor and Alexander Rossi captured the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC) in the Daytona Prototype international class for the No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 team.

The accomplishment was even more special because it was the finale race for Castroneves as a Team Penske driver. To use a baseball reference, it was like a walk-off homerun with a 3-2 count. Not only was Sebring the last of his 344 career races with Team Penske, an early issue in the 12-hour race  – while leading – forced the team to the garage before the one-hour mark. The repairs to the No. 7 Acura resulted in the team losing 11 laps to the race leaders and basically taking the control of their championship destiny out of the hands of Castroneves and Taylor, who brought a slim two-point lead in the standings into the season finale.

Yet, it was as if all the love and support that Castroneves has received from fans, competitors, officials and partners throughout his career would not let him go one more day without a title. Incredibly, both of the No. 7 Acura’s chief competitors for the championship also experienced misfortune throughout the demanding Sebring race. When the checkered flag waved on both the race and Castroneves’ career at Team Penske, he was finally a series champion.

“To be able to finally get the championship, and to do it with an amazing organization and an amazing group of people is very special,” said an emotional Castroneves while surrounded by his team on Saturday night. “I’ve made so many true friends during my time at Team Penske and that lasts forever. This is a night I will never forget. It’s emotional for sure because it has been a lot of hard work by many people. There were many ups and downs, and Roger (Penske) always says you win more than you lose and that is part of what makes the wins so special.”

For Penske, helping Castroneves win a title was a fitting way for the team to honor the driver that has contributed so much the organization's success over the years. 

"Helio has been such an important part of Team Penske for over two decades and he is certainly one of the greatest drivers in the history of our team," said Penske. "Winning a championship with Helio was certainly a great way to end this season."

For Taylor, who has developed a strong bond and lasting friendship with Castroneves during their three years as teammates on the No. 7 Acura, finishing off the championship was more about his co-driver than winning his second career IWSC title.

“To me, Helio is Team Penske,” Taylor stated not long after driving the final stint of the race. “What he has done for the team in his 20-plus years made it a privilege of a lifetime to get to drive for this team and to share a car with him. Winning the championship with him is one of the highlights of my life and my career.”



  Starts Finishes Wins Poles Podiums Top 5s Top 10s Laps Led
Sports Car 34 32 6 11 16 22 30 852
INDYCAR 310 269 30 49 91 138 216 5,874
TOTAL 344 301 36 60 107 160 246 6,726


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