Castroneves Wind Tunnel Quotes After being acquitted of multiple federal tax-related charges on Friday and finishing seventh in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, driver Helio Castroneves sat down for a conversation with host Dave Despain last night on the popular SPEED™ program Wind Tunnel. Below is a transcript of the interview:
Despain: It sure is nice to see you back racing instead of the alternative. Congratulations.
Castroneves: Thank you so much, Dave. It sure is nice to be back. It sure is nice to be talking with you and talking about racing. It was a long six months and this is the best way to be back and to put my mind on what I know and what I think I was born to do. I’m really happy to be racing again.
Castroneves on being back in the car: It was very difficult in the beginning … on the parade lap. A lot of our fans were cheering us on and it was very emotional. I was able to put my helmet on put (the trial) aside and get back to racing. I still need a little WD-40 to get back in shape, but it was a great race and very exciting.
Despain: Let’s go ahead and close book on the trial. Assuming the verdict was the high point in this ordeal, what was the low point?
Castroneves: To be honest, the entire six months was the low point. I didn’t see any high point until Friday. I was very fatigued. It was very difficult … definitely, the scar is going to be there, but I want to turn the page and move on with my life. I am happy that I got a fair trial here, being a foreign person. It was a fair trial. Now, move on and it’s back to racing. That’s the only thing I want to do now.
Despain: I’m going to ask you one more and then I am going to leave it alone. The government allegations took a lot way from you, not the least of which was the opportunity to race in the series opener. Are you at all angry about the way you have been treated given the outcome?
Castroneves: No. Everybody was very fair. It was a fair trial and it turned out to be the truth. Again, I just want to thank all the prayers from fans here in America and all over the world. They sent a lot of prayers and without that … it was very difficult to keep going and that, for me, was the key to keeping strong. So, thank you so much … thank you, God … he kept my faith strong and he never let me down.
Despain: Roger Penske said from the beginning, when he’s acquitted, his car will be waiting. It was a little complicated to make the logistics of that work out, but indeed it was. How else did Roger himself and Team Penske help you get through this?
Castroneves: They were incredible. Team Penske … they always believed me and they were always there. The mechanics, the whole team … they never let me down. They always said, ‘When everything is over, your car is going to be there.’ In fact, on Monday, they were saying the car already left, but I said I had to stay and keep focused on the trial. Honestly, on Friday when the result came, the first person I called was Roger and he was like, ‘Come over … get your butt over here, we want you in the car.’
Despain: As you look ahead, what are you focused on at this minute?
Castroneves: Kansas. I didn’t know the calendar until this morning and Kansas City is the next race, so I am so excited to be in the championship and score my first points.