Castroneves: IMSA title "in my memory forever" after Penske farewell

Helio Castroneves said winning the 2020 IMSA SportsCar Championship will "be in my memory forever" having finally ended his title hoodoo after two decades with Team Penske

Castroneves: IMSA title "in my memory forever" after Penske farewell

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner joined Penske's IndyCar team in 2000 and finished runner-up in the championship four times (2002, 2008, 2013 and 2014), but a title always proved elusive.

The Brazilian was switched to Penske's IMSA programme for 2018 and in his final season with the team, together with Ricky Taylor, clinched the title with an eighth place finish at the Sebring 12 Hours.

An early turbo problem on the #7 Acura ARX-05 they shared with Alexander Rossi cost 11 laps and looked to have swung the balance in favour of the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac, only for WTR's Scott Dixon to come off worse in contact with Mazda driver Oliver Jarvis.

The resultant laps lost due to damage meant Dixon and title protagonists Renger van der Zande and Ryan Briscoe could only finish seventh, giving Castroneves and Taylor the title by a single point.

With Penske's IMSA programme reaching its conclusion, the 45-year-old will join Meyer Shank Racing next year for a six-race IndyCar schedule, bringing down the curtain on 21 seasons with Penske.

Speaking to NBCSN, an emotional Castroneves said: "You know, [Penske president Tim] Cindric was like, 'Don't cry!' and I said 'Look, you don't know what's going on - there's so much in my mind!

"For me to be able to finish with a championship for an incredible organisation, amazing group of people.... True friends that last forever.

"It's a new beginning for me but I'll never, ever forget this.

"I can't thank enough everyone at Acura Team Penske and this guy here [Taylor] and Roger [Penske] of course.

"Thanks RP, because obviously, it's been an incredible journey, an incredible journey for sure."

Asked if he could have written a better fairytale ending to his time with Penske, Castroneves said fighting back tears: "No, no question.

"I get emotional because it's so many years, putting this thing together, and finishing like this - not finishing but ending, you know?

"It's absolutely incredible, a blessing.

"As RP says, you lose more than you win and finally, when you clinch one, it's special.

"And this one, no question, is going to be in my memory forever."

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Series IMSA
Author David Malsher
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