Castroneves: teams will adapt fast

Helio Castroneves believes that the former Champ Car teams will rapidly get up to speed in the IRL IndyCar Series

Castroneves: teams will adapt fast

The double Indianapolis 500 winner and his Penske team moved from Champ Car to the IRL in 2002 and won the second race of the season. He expects this year's new arrivals to make a similarly effective transition.

"They're going to take time. When I say 'take time', it happened to us once (when) we went to the IndyCar Series," Castroneves said. "We took one race, we learned. Second race, we finished first and second. Good teams, good drivers, they will adapt quickly."

The Brazilian believes the very short Richmond and Iowa ovals will require the greatest adjustment from the Champ Car converts.

"I remember the first time when I drove those tracks, it was kind of a first impression: 'Wow, this is fast; this is crazy,'" he said.

"But, again, when you get the set-up of the car and get going, it was actually fun."

Castroneves also thinks that the switch from the turbocharged Cosworth engines used in Champ Car to the IRL's normally-aspirated Hondas will take some getting used to.

"I remember that sometimes you're feeling you're waiting a little bit until the turbo kicks in, and it didn't happen, obviously, because we didn't have it," he said.

"For that point, I think for them, especially on the ovals, they might feel it will take a little longer. On the road courses, it won't be any issue."

The IndyCar Series Dallaras have switched from a conventional gear lever to a paddleshift system for 2008. Castroneves reckons this will help the newcomers as the current IRL drivers must acclimatise to the new method. Champ Car adopted paddleshifting when it introduced the Panoz DP01 last year.

"We are also going to have to adapt to the new system with the paddle shifting," he said.

"I remember the first time when I tested here (at Homestead) when we had the system, I went straight for the gear leverage and didn't have it any more. It sounds simple, but it's not. There's a lot related to what your mind prepared in the past."

Castroneves believes it will take time for the merged series' profile to build, but he is confident that it will ultimately become a strong alternative to NASCAR.

"Today NASCAR is so popular. Those new young kids want to go to NASCAR," he said. "Five years from now, I do feel we're going to see the same way it used to be in the past: those kids looking to go into the open-wheel series.

"It's going to happen - new talents, new drivers. It's going to be stronger than the way it used to be."

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