Helio Castroneves has expressed interest in returning to a full-time IndyCar race seat having taken a step back from the series at the end of 2017.
The Brazilian driver began his career in American open wheel racing in 1998 in the now-defunct CART series. He switched to Team Penske shortly after in 2000 and stayed with the team through the series’ merger with IndyCar and for many years afterwards.
Since leaving IndyCar on a full-time basis in 2017, his attention turned to running a full schedule in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, eventually winning the title with team-mates Alexander Rossi and Ricky Taylor for Acura Team Penske in 2020.
Now that 45-year old can be considered a seasoned veteran in multiple racing disciplines, he is turning his focus back to IndyCar with six races on his plate for Meyer Shank Racing in 2021 and has an appetite for more.
When asked by Motorsport Week about the possibility of driving in IndyCar full time again, Castroneves quipped: “That would be great, no question.
“It would be awesome to be part of more races, which accelerate the adaptation to the car. Yes, I would love to be a full season. That would be a no-brainer.
“I always feel that we could do a little bit more [than six races this year], but I understand the process with Meyer Shank Racing. We’ll just keep it going. We’ll find ways.
“Also IMSA. I had a great three years and it would be a waste of three years to just throw out all the experience that I learn there over the three years.
“As of right now, yes, if I can do more IndyCar racing, it would be great.”
Castroneves’ new partnership with MSR represents a significant change for the 45-year-old, whose two relief appearances with Arrow McLaren SP last season were the first IndyCar races he had contested for a team other than Team Penske in over 20 years.
But now he has six races scheduled with a fledgling team that is beginning its fifth season in the series and is going into the season with an open mind and a desire for strong performances.
Castroneves believes whole-heartedly his new partnership will reinvigorate him and hopes to be able to demonstrate his iconic fence-climbing celebration again in the near future.
“Obviously when you spend 20-plus years in one place, it’s a habit,” he explained. “They know what you like. I know what they like. So you kind of like follow that format.
“Penske always had an open mind, but now with a different process and understanding this open mind with Meyer Shank Racing, it is really cool to understand. It’s going to take a little time.
“As I say, it’s a process, but I’m excited. I’m ready for this challenge. I believe hopefully all these years that I been with a great organization, we can make [this one great] together.
“Together we can also make this incredible organization to the top as well.”