DIXON AND CASTRONEVES
Roger Penske has
loyalty to those he
believes in. As a
Indy winner Helio
Castroneves is now
in his 14th year
with The Captain,
while Rick Mears
(BELOW in 1978)
lasted 15 years in a
Penske cockpit and
with four wins in
the “500.” Since
hanging up his
helmet, Mears has
remained at Team
Penske as advisor
to RP’s drivers,
LOYALT Y EARNED
SD I remember 2003 going down to the
wire. Helio had a better shot than me, but
he and Tony Kanaan banged wheels and
Helio cut a tire. I finished second to Gil and
won the title. In ’08, I had an 86-point lead
with six races to go, but only barely hung on.
What do you think of each other as rivals?
HC I have a lot of respect for Scott as a
driver and a person. He started young
and started winning young. Competitors
force me to find ways to improve myself,
and Ganassi and Scott have been a good
combination: yes, they have tough spots,
but they’re always there in the end.
SD I remember going to watch him run
Indy Lights in Laguna and Vancouver in
1997. Coming from small formulas, I was
in awe of those guys, especially when he
started winning for Penske. Helio has been
around a long time and we’re all getting
older, but still fighting for the championship.
HC When Dario and I were in New York to
promote the Indy 500, he made a good
point that all his championships came
after he was 35, so it shows you have to
have some experience. You don’t get
slower when you get older, you get wiser
and don’t put your nose in places it
doesn’t belong. The guys who adapt are
the ones who flourish. In 2011, we tried
double file restarts and it was the worst
season of my career; I kept hitting
everyone, so I had to adapt my style.
SD As a young driver, you can get into a
bad spiral, doubting yourself. If you crash
or mess up, you think, “Maybe I shouldn’t
be here?” I train with Josef [Newgarden]
and see those insecurities we once had.
As you get older, you gain confidence that
you’re making the correct changes. The
maturity that shines through is to do with
believing in yourself. “Hey we’re just
having a bad patch, we’ll get through it.”
When will you start “driving for points?”
HC At this stage, yes you think about
points and you’ve got to be smart. At
Toronto, Hunter-Reay had a late crash
that may have jeopardized his season.
I haven’t won a championship yet, but
I think being smart is the key. You always
want to be fastest and win, but you take
what’s out there if you’re smart.
SD Mentally you focus on each race itself
and we go to each one to win. It’s too
easy to get caught up in worrying,
“Where’s Helio?” sort of thing. Save that
for the last race or two. For now, we’ve
just got to focus on our own effort. To get
out of the car and say “We were racing
for points,” is bulls**t.
Do you think IndyCar’s points system is fair?
HC I’ll let you know in October.
SD Every year the championship comes
down to the final laps, so I think it’s a damn
good system. No phony reset bulls**t.
What would the championship mean?
HC I want the title more than anybody!
Scott and Ryan are behind me and are
experienced winners on great teams and
they’re obviously very capable. But I trust
my team; we’ve got the best equipment,
best pit stops and the best guys. We know
we’re capable of being champions; we just
have to stay focused on what we’re doing.
SD For me, the title would mean…Chip
would be nicer to me and maybe give me
a big bonus. Or probably just a big hug.
Reigning champ Ryan
showered by those
fighting to replace him
as the man at the top
of IndyCar, after he
beat them at Barber.
Neither Helio nor Scott
(BELOW) are ready to
count RHR out of the
2013 title hunt yet.