Castroneves would welcome Hornish

Helio Castroneves would welcome Sam Hornish Jr. as a team-mate at Penske Racing next season - if that scenario comes to pass

Castroneves would welcome Hornish

AUTOSPORT sources suggest that Hornish will announce a three-year deal with Penske next week that eventually will steer him towards a NASCAR Nextel Cup ride with Penske South. In the interim, Hornish will join Castroneves and Gil de Ferran for an unspecified number of IRL IndyCar Series races in 2004 while making the transition through stock-car racing's minor leagues.

When asked about the possibility of Hornish joining Marlboro Team Penske, Castroneves was upbeat. "I don't know anything, but whatever happens, happens," he said. "It would be good to have him. I don't know where or how it would be, but in this world and in racing, you never know."

Hornish did not comment specifically Saturday on the report, which projected a mix of IRL, Busch and ARCA races in 2004 before Hornish takes over Rusty Wallace's car in the Nextel Cup. Wallace's contract with Penske runs through the 2005 season, but Wallace has hinted lately at the possibility of retirement.

"I said I would make an announcement before the end of the month, and that's next Sunday," Hornish said Saturday at Nazareth Speedway.

Meanwhile, Castroneves enjoyed the thought of a three-car super team, even if it's only temporary. Hornish won the last two IRL championships, and all three drivers - Hornish, Castroneves and Gil de Ferran - are in the hunt for the 2003 championship.

"He's a good driver," said Castroneves. "He can do a lot of things that people don't think he can do. I would love to learn his quality. My mind is always open to having people help us perform well."

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