Drivers follow their teams for World Cup

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For the first time since 1950, Brazil is host to the 32-team international tournament at 12 venues.

Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan were occupied by testing on the Milwaukee Mile oval so they couldn't watch Brazil's opening match of the FIFA World Cup.

But they received updates.

"The main talk in Brazil is World Cup and has been for some time leading up to the tournament and the whole world is watching," Castroneves said. "I'd love to watch, too, but work comes first. Right now it's crazy there and I'm sure they're going to have a great time."

For the first time since 1950, Brazil is host to the 32-team international tournament at 12 venues. For the first time since the inaugural World Cup in 1930, all world champion teams (Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Uruguay) have qualified for the competition that continues through July 13. Spain is the defending champion, having defeated the Netherlands 1-0 in 2010.

Brazil will attempt to become the first nation to win the World Cup at home since France in 1998. The Brazilians were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the past two tournaments (by France in 2006 and by the Netherlands in 2010).

Brazil is the only country to have played in every World Cup tournament, winning five championships. Its last World Cup title was in 2002. Brazil is led by 22-year-old forward Neymar, who is making his first appearance in the tournament.

"Hopefully, Brazil will go to the final," Castroneves added. "They have a great team. Winning the World Cup means an (improved) economic situation, better mood and it would be great for everyone."

With the international lineup of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers, everyone is tuned in to the competition even if they don't follow the sport during league play.

"It's like any sport; when you don't have any team you follow you're not as interested. When you get to the World Cup I support my country. It means something," Englishman Justin Wilson said.

Added Carlos Munoz: "I'm from Colombia and follow the national team, and it's exciting because it's the first time they have qualified in a long time (16 years). Everyone in Colombia is united about the football and we're expecting a lot."

The U.S. squad opens Group G play against Ghana on June 16.

INDYCAR

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About this article
Series INDYCAR
Article type Breaking news
Tags helio castroneves, indycar, tony kanaan