By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
Years in IndyCar: 19
Career Laps led: 5595
2016-17 Team: Team Penske
Consistency and level-headedness defined Helio Castroneves in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series.
Although the Brazilian went winless for the second straight season, he still was one of the competitive forces to be reckoned with. He finished inside the top 10 nine times and qualified in the top 10 14 out of 16 races. Only his teammate and eventual champion Simon Pagenaud had a better qualifying average.
Other than getting run over by Alexander Rossi on pit road at Pocono, he really didn’t have a bad day anywhere, but some circumstances beyond his control kept him out of the winner’s circle.
He was on pace to win Phoenix and Detroit, but a tire failure took him out of contention at Phoenix and a bad strategy call dashed his hopes in Detroit.
Consistency is a championship winning quality, but the driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet found himself too far behind teammates Will Power and Simon Pagenaud to challenge for the series title.
While Castroneves is entering his 20th season of Indycar racing and is still seeking his elusive first championship, don’t put him out to pasture yet.
Castroneves is popular with the fans and great with sponsors, but it is his ability to still be a contender at this stage of his career still makes him a hot commodity for Team Penske and the series. He noted at media day that regardless of his age, he still carries the same motivation now as he always has every time he climbs into the cockpit.
“I won’t think about the clock ticking, I am thinking about opportunity, and that’s probably the motivation to come back every year,” he said. “When I put the helmet on, give it my best, and that’s what I’m going to do again.”
He is still on the cusp of tying Rick Mears and former Team Penske drivers Al Unser and AJ Foyt for the most wins (4) at the Indianapolis 500. That enough will motivate anybody, let alone a three-time winner of the race, to keep coming back.