INDYCAR News and Notes – June 16, 2015

Verizon IndyCar Series Headlines:

1. Off weekend allows drivers, teams to decompress
2. Castroneves climbing after second straight podium
3. Inside the box score – Honda Indy Toronto

1. Off weekend allows drivers, teams to decompress: His nephew’s birthday party, a few public appearances and Father’s Day constitute the remainder of Helio Castroneves’ week, which is exceptionally light in the midst of the Verizon IndyCar Series championship chase and certainly welcome.

From far-flung trips to Tokyo and Monaco to visit family to outings in Indiana backyards and lakes, drivers and team personnel will decompress this weekend after a run of 10 consecutive weeks of track activity that included nine races, a test day on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval and Indianapolis 500 Mile Race qualifications.

“I’m recovering from bronchitis from Indy, and hopefully I can get exercise, (get) back in the groove and in the rhythm,” said Castroneves, who is coming off a third-place finish June 14 in the Honda Indy Toronto. “But I think it’s more with the boys from the entire organization — the mechanics, the people. They’ve been worn out from changing the car from ovals to the street course, fixing a lot of things. They’ve kept their heads down and moved forward.

“So this off week is going to recharge the batteries of everyone.”

Following the MAVTV 500 on June 27 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., the final five races of the season are spread over nine weeks.

“There are a lot of racing series that run even more than we do back to back, but Indy car (racing) is so mentally draining,” said Honda Indy Toronto winner Josef Newgarden, whose plans include visiting family in Nashville, Tenn., this weekend. “There’s something about this series, the cars, they’re difficult to drive sometimes, under trying conditions. To get a weekend off is huge.

“I think more so, really the crews are what need time off. They don’t have maybe the mental strain, but physically they’re just worn out.”

Crews for most teams reconvened June 16 following a Toronto travel day and will have shortened shop-based days through June 19 while preparing cars for the race on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval and restocking equipment.

“They’ll have the weekend off and then we don’t want to see them again until we board the plane for Fontana,” Dale Coyne Racing team manager Darren Crouser said.

An off weekend incorporating Father’s Day is a bonus.

“My son just turned 1 and I’m looking forward to spending time with him,” said Brad Goldberg, engineer for Charlie Kimball’s No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. “You come to a race and go home three or four days later and he’s a completely different person. He’s learned something new or has a new trick.”

2. Castroneves climbing after second straight podium: Castroneves finished third for the second race in a row to post the 85th top-three finish and 123rd top five of his Indy car career.

Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, finished 3.9 seconds behind Honda Indy Toronto winner Josef Newgarden to remain fourth (seven points behind third-place Scott Dixon) in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings. He led 15 laps for 5,329 in his career.

“I was pushing like I stole it. But in the end it was great,” said Castroneves, who started seventh. “It was a shame with the weather a little bit, but thank God we were able to put some dry laps out there for the fans. The Canadian fans are always awesome. This is a great event and I hope when we come here next year we get a win.”

Other statistical notables: Rodolfo Gonzalez, who started 23rd in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, led his first laps. He finished 18th after a late-race pit stop. … Marco Andretti, who finished 13th in the No. 27 Dr Pepper Honda for Andretti Autosport, is the only driver to complete all 1,057 laps this season. … Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power, driver of the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, and Castroneves have led seven of the 10 races — a field high.

3. Inside the box score – Honda Indy Toronto: Numbers to note following the Honda Indy Toronto – the 10th round of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

5.12 – Average running position of winner Josef Newgarden for the 85 laps of racing.

6 – Drivers who led at least one lap, the most drivers to lead at Toronto since 2007.

7 – Lead changes during the Honda Indy Toronto, one short of the event’s record set in 2007 and matched in 2013-Race 1.

10 – Top-10 finishes at Toronto by Sebastien Bourdais, who finished fifth. Bourdais has eight top-five finishes in 12 starts at Exhibition Place. … Positions improved by Josef Newgarden (11th to first), most of any driver in the race.

11 – On-track passes by rookies Gabby Chaves and Conor Daly.

18 – Number of laps in which Rodolfo Gonzalez improved his position – most of any driver.

41 – Indy car poles for Will Power, who broke a tie with Rick Mears for fifth all time and extended his streak of front-row starts to seven races.

243 – Consecutive starts by Tony Kanaan, extending his all-time record.