Castroneves, Nalbandian trade strokes at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Helio Castroneves is a race car driver who plays tennis for fun and exercise. David Nalbandian is a professional tennis player who owns a race car team.

This was the perfect friendly match – the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion and the seventh-ranked men's player in the world — on a makeshift court on the Homestead-Miami Speedway frontstretch.

"I'm going to play (toward Turn 1) so he might feel the power of my serve," Castroneves joked beforehand. "With that, I don't want to injure him because he's going to be playing (March 28) and I'll be racing."

Nalbandian, who won two ATP Masters Series tournaments in 2007, is competing in the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami this weekend. Castroneves, who much to the chagrin of the crowd didn't perform a few Foxtrot steps on his backhand, is competing in the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300.

"I felt relatively safe today, because even though we were playing tennis we were on the racetrack, where I’m most comfortable," said Castroneves, who has previously played exhibition matches against other top-ranked ATP and WTA players. "David is an incredible athlete, and it's great we had this opportunity with both our race and the ATP in town this weekend. I had a fantastic time, and I hope he does well this weekend."

Nalbandian also took a ride in the IndyCar Series two-seater on the 1.5-mile, variably banked oval with driver Davey Hamilton.

"I really enjoyed it," said Nalbandian, who owns the Tango Rally Team that competes in the World Rally Championships with driver Marco Ligato. "I'd like to drive one of the (IndyCar Series) cars. It's tough to do what these guys do on the course. You have to practice. You have to be able to spend hours here."

He wasn't able to; it was back to the practice court.

"It's great to see someone who appreciates our sport the same way I appreciate his sport," Castroneves said.

Leave a Reply