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Notes: Castroneves named St. Pete race grand marshal

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Helio Castroneves may not be racing full time in the Verizon IndyCar Series this season, but he’ll still play a prominent role in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Race promoters announced today that Castroneves, who has won the St. Pete event three times, will serve as grand marshal for the March 9-11 race weekend. Castroneves won the race on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit in 2006, ’07 and ’12. The 42-year-old Brazilian has moved to Team Penske’s sports car program full time this year but will return to the Verizon IndyCar Series for races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May – the INDYCAR Grand Prix on May 12 and the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, where Castroneves seeks to become just the fourth four-time winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has always been one of my favorite events,” Castroneves said. “The fences are great to climb! I am honored to be grand marshal this year.  

“I will miss competing in the race, but I look forward to seeing all of the fans and taking part in all of the activities during the weekend. I cannot wait to see the new aero kit Indy cars – fans will not want to miss out on all of the action.”

Race entitlement sponsor Firestone, the official tire supplier to the Verizon IndyCar Series, and Team Penske have joined to honor Castroneves’ accomplishments as an Indy car driver for 20 years. His involvement as grand marshal will span five days of activities encompassing community, media and fan interaction events.

“Everyone at Firestone is grateful to Helio for his contributions to our sport,” said Lisa Boggs, director of Bridgestone Americas Motorsports. “Honoring him as grand marshal of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is a great way to thank him and give fans the opportunity to let him know how much they appreciate all he has done. Helio raced on Firestone Firehawks for almost two decades, so it is fitting that he is a part of this race weekend.”

Indy cars have raced 13 times previously on the St. Pete course consisting of downtown streets and a runway of Albert Whitted Airport. Sebastien Bourdais, whose adopted hometown is St. Petersburg, is the defending race winner. Castroneves’ three wins at St. Pete are the most of any driver.

"It’s our honor to have Helio join us as grand marshal and recognize his many Indy car achievements at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg," said Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Racing Promotions, organizer of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. "Our fans will no doubt give him a great reception as he returns to the racetrack where he sets the standard for success."

Ticket information for the race is available at gpstpete.com. The March 11 race airs live at 12:30 p.m. ET on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

ProSupps nutrition brand an associate sponsor on Bourdais’ No. 18 Honda

Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan announced that sports nutrition brand ProSupps will be an associate sponsor of the No. 18 Honda driven by Sebastien Bourdais for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Among the ProSupps line are the popular Mr. Hyde and Dr Jekyll NitroX pre-workout products and the new Hyde Power Potion beverage.

“ProSupps is incredibly proud to be partnering with the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan team on the No. 18 Indy car being driven by Sebastien Bourdais,” said ProSupps founder TJ Humphreys. “The Verizon IndyCar Series is all about performance, energy, power and, of course, speed – things that align perfectly with what we do every day at ProSupps. The never-ending drive and passion for greatness is part of our DNA, core principles that are shared by Sebastien Bourdais and the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan team, and that’s why this partnership truly is a perfect fit. We are honored and excited to help fuel a successful season for the team.

Hyatt named president at Iowa Speedway

Iowa Speedway announced today that long-time broadcast and motorsports industry executive David Hyatt has been named its new track president. Hyatt replaces Jimmy Small, who is becoming senior director of international business development for NASCAR. International Speedway Corp. operates NASCAR and Iowa Speedway, which will host the Verizon IndyCar Series for the 12th straight year with the Iowa Corn 300 on July 8 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Hyatt joins Iowa Speedway after nearly 30 years in the industry where he launched the original NASCAR.com and most recently served the Motor Racing Network as president and executive producer.

Juncos unveils livery for No. 32 Chevrolet shared by Kaiser, Binder

Ahead of rookie testing today at ISM Raceway, Juncos Racing revealed the vibrant green, white and orange livery on its No. 32 Chevrolet to be driven by Kyle Kaiser and Rene Binder this season. Each driver is currently slated to compete in four races, with more possible pending additional sponsorship.

Kaiser is driving in today’s rookie testing on ISM Raceway’s 1.022-mile oval. The reigning Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion’s race schedule includes the Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway on April 7. Binder’s four-race stint begins with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg that opens the season on March 11.

The car’s livery will be similar for both drivers, except that it will feature Binderholz as the primary sponsor for Binder’s races. The three colors in the livery continue the tradition that Juncos Racing has built in becoming a powerhouse team in the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder. Kaiser won the Indy Lights title last year for Juncos, as did Victor Franzoni in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires.

“We are happy to continue with the colors that represent our team,” said team owner Ricardo Juncos. “The shade of green we use really stands out among the field. It is an eye-catcher not only on our cars, but in our pit as well. Last year, an aerial shot of the Indianapolis 500 showed how much we stood out with our green being highly visible on track and among the fans wearing our gear and our crew in the pits. These designs and colors will help us maintain that statement this year and I look forward to seeing our car on track for the first time this year at Phoenix today.”

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