FWIW, from Curt Cavin's blog today in the Indianapolis Star
, on Penske and HCN:
Question: Roger Penske can't possibly be thinking about keeping Helio on board now that the court has refused the request to postpone the trial until after the IRL season. At the same time, Roger likely does not want to abandon Helio at this particular time. So what's Roger to do? Keep Helio and hope for a short (and favorable) court outcome, or go with plan B, whatever it is? (David, Naperville, Ill.)
Answer: I have been saying for a couple of weeks now that I think Penske will give Castroneves a leave of absence (and still pay him) for as long as he's defending himself. This will also allow Helio to focus on the trial. I think Penske will hire a replacement for the No. 3 car for the 2009 season and bring back HCN in another car when he's ready. If the trial is over quickly and he's acquitted, I think he can return to his car for the start of the season, with the stand-in "placed" somewhere, like with a ride at Indy. But that's just my prediction. I have no insider information because team officials have played this close to the vest.
And on Panther rumors:
Question: Autosport repots that GP2 champion Giorgio Pantano will test before the end of the year with Panther Racing about a chance to get a seat for 2009 season. I'd love to see him as Dan's teammate, and I think Panther would be better off with two cars than one, and I think these two would work well together, Dan bringing the oval expertise, and Giorgio with the road course experience. Is this just a test or a real opportunity to expand to a two-car team? (James, Johnson City, Tenn.)
Answer: Panther is always in the market to expand, especially given the financial difficulties of the day. But I don't know that anything has been signed at this point. Remember, Pantano had a brief IRL shot with Ganassi in 2005. Come to think of it, everyone in racing had a shot with Ganassi in 2005, and only Dixon kept his head above water, although Briscoe has rebounded pretty well.http://blogs.indysta...1_and_rp_2.html
Like I said, offered up for what it's worth. Cavin usually posts daily and, if you haven't seen the site, it's an excellent way to keep up with the sport, especially in the offseason when few others are writing regularly. His Thursday night radio show is also fairly interesting, and available on podcast.