CHAMPCAR/CART: Helio Castro-Neves Houston Preview

Castro-Neves Eager To Run The Streets Of Houston (September 28, 1998) - With three races to go in the 1998 CART FedEx Championship Series, Helio Castro-Neves finds himself facing three events on the type of tracks where he has registered his ...

Castro-Neves Eager To Run The Streets Of Houston

(September 28, 1998) - With three races to go in the 1998 CART FedEx Championship Series, Helio Castro-Neves finds himself facing three events on the type of tracks where he has registered his best results of this season.

The driver of the Team Alumax Reynard/Mercedes-Benz owned by Bettenhausen Motorsports will run in Sunday's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston (ABC, 4 p.m. ET); then head "Down Under" for the streets of Surfers Paradise on Oct. 18; and finally close out the season on the banks of California Speedway in Fontana on Nov. 1.

All three venues will demand his utmost attention, but for now, the focus will be on one of his favorite types of race track--the city street circuit. "We have had a strong car for all of the ovals, but I am really looking forward to the next two races because we have had good success on the street circuits this year," Castro-Neves said. "Like Vancouver, this will be a new track for everyone. I feel strongly about our chances to be competitive because Tom Brown (the team's chief engineer) has come up with a good setup for the street circuits and two of our best races have come in street races."

Castro-Neves is, of course, alluding to Long Beach and Vancouver, two of the three races he has led this season and two tracks where he went from last to first. At Long Beach in April, the race was his to win before an off-course excursion took him out of contention. Regardless, the 23-year-old Brazilian was the fastest driver in the final third of the race. A few weeks ago in Vancouver, he ran away from the field for 20 laps and ran the fastest race lap before running out of fuel.

"I think we have shown everyone that we can be fast," Castro-Neves continued. "What we need to do now is get the kind of race result we have been wanting all season long. It's no longer just a matter of wanting to score a high finish. We want to win."

PIT NOTES:

While Sunday's race will mark the first-ever visit by championship cars, Houston has hosted a significant motorsports event before. In 1969, the Houston Astrodome was the site of the Astro Grand Prix, a special USAC Midget event featuring a number of top Indy 500 drivers. The race was won by Gary Bettenhausen, brother of team owner Tony Bettenhausen. Tony's career also has a tie to Houston. From 1969 to 1971, he raced stock cars at the local Meyer Speedway before moving on to NASCAR ... The Houston race will also be CART's first-ever venture into Texas. Champ Cars ran at Texas World Speedway in College Station from 1973 to 1978, but those races were not sanctioned by CART.

Team Alumax Bettenhausen Motorsports.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tom Brown