TORONTO - Helio Castroneves wishes Dario Franchitti would stop whining and start acting like the IZOD IndyCar champion that he is.
Castroneves lashed out at the defending IndyCar series champion on Tuesday after hearing that Franchitti had criticized the Brazilian’s driving at the Milwaukee 225 on Sunday.
Franchitti, who won the race at the Milwaukee Mile, accused Castroneves of blocking late in the race.
It isn’t the first time a competitor has accused Castroneves of moving his car around the track to avoid getting passed, but the three-time Indy 500 winner said this time he was not blocking, but had a tire going flat.
He said he was just trying to nurse his car through the final 30 laps of racing.
“We could see the tire was low but I couldn’t feel anything,” Castroneves said Tuesday in a phone interview from his Miami home.
He thought he could have made it to the end because it was the left rear tire with the problem.
“The way Milwaukee is — flat out, no banking — the left rear has the least amount of load on it,” Castroneves said. “And that is why for me it was fine and I was able to keep turning fast laps.”
In fact he said that if it were not for Tony Kanaan spinning out, he thought he could have stayed out front and won the race.
“If the yellow had not come out for TK’s spin, I believe we might have had a chance,” Castroneves said.
As it was, he pitted to get new tires at that point and his chances of winning were out the window.
Still, he said, he wants to talk to Franchitti about his remarks.
“I’m very sorry he that he feels that way,” Castroneves said. “I definitely want to talk to him. I want to find out what happened; why he would have such a harsh comment about me.”
He said Franchitti should have been celebrating his win rather than spending time slagging a fellow driver.
“He’s our champion; he should be just enjoying his victory and act like a champion,” Castroneves said. “He won the race; there were other cars between me and him.”
Castroneves said he is not going to let Franchitti’s comments get under his skin.
“You know it is what it is,” he said. “Now I just want to move on to Iowa this week and try to win that race.”
Oh, and by the way, Castroneves can’t wait to get to Toronto for the Honda Indy on July 10th. He said it is one of his favourite all-time races.
“Toronto is an awesome place to race,” he said. “You can call it the Honda Indy or the Molson Indy, it doesn’t matter, it will always be seen as one of the cornerstones of IndyCar racing.”
Canucks hit the road
There will be four Canadians — all with a solid chance to win — starting at the NASCAR Nationwide Series Bucyrus 200 at Road America on Saturday.
Ron Fellows will be back behind the wheel of the Dale Earnhardt Jr.-owned No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, a car he finished second in to Carl Edwards at last year’s race.
It is also the same team that Fellows led to victory in Montreal’s NAPA 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2008.
Canada’s lone Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve will get his best shot at a NASCAR victory as he will drive the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge — the team that is the defending series champion. It is Villeneuve’s first start for the legendary Penske group.
J.R. Fitzpatrick, of Cambridge, Ont., will try to improve on his seventh-place finish at Elkhart Lake last season when he brings the No. 67 Go Canada Racing Ford Mustang to the permanent Wisconsin road course.
And Andrew Ranger will be hoping to get a win in the No. 53 Waste Management Dodge. Ranger, of Roxton Pond, Que., already has a pair road course wins this season in the NASCAR K&N series.
Of course they all will have to deal with Edwards, who is planning double duty, racing Saturday at Road America and Sunday in the Sprint Cup race at Infineon Raceway in California.
IZOD IndyCar boss Randy Bernard said Tuesday the disappointing crowd at Sunday’s Milwaukee 225 — estimated at only 15,000 in the 40,000-seat facility — will almost certainly mean no race there in 2012. Bernard told SPEED.com the race could be replaced next season by a race at Road America. He also said he has had discussions with the promoters at Chicagoland Speedway about a race at that 1.5 mile oval ... Efforts are underway by French prime minister Francois Fillon to bring back Formula One racing to his country. The proposed venue would be the Paul Ricard circuit near Marseille.