Off weekend allows IndyCar drivers, teams to decompress

By Toronto the IndyCar paddock was dragging
By Toronto the IndyCar paddock was dragging

His nephew's birthday party, a few public appearances and Father's Day constitute the remainder of Helio Castroneves' week, which is exceptionally light in the midst of the Verizon IndyCar Series championship chase and certainly welcome.

From far-flung trips to Tokyo and Monaco to visit family to outings in Indiana backyards and lakes, drivers and team personnel will decompress this weekend after a run of 10 consecutive weeks of track activity that included nine races, a test day on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval and Indianapolis 500 Mile Race qualifications.

"I'm recovering from bronchitis from Indy, and hopefully I can get exercise, (get) back in the groove and in the rhythm," said Castroneves, who is coming off a third-place finish June 14 in the Honda Indy Toronto. "But I think it's more with the boys from the entire organization — the mechanics, the people. They've been worn out from changing the car from ovals to the street course, fixing a lot of things. They've kept their heads down and moved forward.

"So this off-week is going to recharge the batteries of everyone."

Following the MAVTV 500 on June 27 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., the final five races of the season are spread over nine weeks.

"There are a lot of racing series that run even more than we do back to back, but Indy car (racing) is so mentally draining," said Honda Indy Toronto winner Josef Newgarden, whose plans include visiting family in Nashville, Tenn., this weekend. "There's something about this series, the cars, they're difficult to drive sometimes, under trying conditions. To get a weekend off is huge.

"I think more so, really the crews are what need time off. They don't have maybe the mental strain, but physically they're just worn out."

Crews for most teams reconvened June 16 following a Toronto travel day and will have shortened shop-based days through June 19 while preparing cars for the race on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval and restocking equipment.

"They'll have the weekend off and then we don't want to see them again until we board the plane for Fontana," Dale Coyne Racing team manager Darren Crouser said.

An off weekend incorporating Father's Day is a bonus.

"My son just turned 1 and I'm looking forward to spending time with him," said Brad Goldberg, engineer for Charlie Kimball's No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. "You come to a race and go home three or four days later and he's a completely different person. He's learned something new or has a new trick."

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