Castroneves can "absolutely" win the 2017 title, says engineer

Team Penske-Chevrolet race engineer Jonathan Diuguid says Helio Castroneves is more than capable of winning the Verizon IndyCar Series title for the first time, in what is rumored to be his final full season in open-wheel racing.

Castroneves can "absolutely" win the 2017 title, says engineer
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet, race engineer Jonathan Diuguid
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet takes the checkered flag
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet takes the checkered flag
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet pit stop
Roger Penske, Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda, Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Polesitter Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet

With speculation mounting that Castroneves will be racing a Penske-run Honda DPi sportscar next year, that would make 2017 his last shot at the IndyCar championship. Although he has finished in the top three in the championship eight time in his 19-year career , the 42-year-old has never clinched the title.

However, Castroneves’ win at Iowa Speedway – the 30th of his career but his first in three years – has elevated him to just eight points from current championship leader, Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda’s Scott Dixon.

Now his race engineer Diuguid, has told Motorsport.com that he’s confident his driver can finally clinch the title.

“Absolutely he can," said Diuguid. "The last two years specifically, we’ve had a really strong charge at the title and last year I think we went from sixth in the championship with four or five races to go and finished third, thanks to some good results in the last three races.

“So I think that is something he’s very cognizant of – to be strong at the end of the championship.

“The other thing is that he’s been running this series for 20 years, and it’s difficult to get him riled up about anything. He’s pushing as hard as he always has, he’s confident in the cars we’ve been bringing to the track and his performances in qualifying have shown it, and his performances in races have shown it.

“So looking ahead, yeah, Toronto next week should be good. I think we know he had the pace for pole there last year.”

Diuguid added that he felt Castroneves’ dominance of the Iowa Corn 300 was down to crucial race setup work accomplished in opening practice.

“Not having tested here with the other teams, we figured we’d be at a little bit of a deficit,” he said, “because the left-side tires changed this year which altered the balance of the car a good amount. Our four cars were probably the most different from each other that they’ve been all year.

“On the #3 car we decided to forego a qualifying simulation in first practice just to work on our race setups. We went through a lot of variables this weekend and then hit on a combination he was really happy with. So there were good benefits to focusing a bit extra on race setup, and I think it paid off.”

Castroneves has 395 points to Dixon’s 403, but heads his teammates Simon Pagenaud (372), Will Power (350) and Josef Newgarden (347).

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