January 14, 2009 03:00 PM by Paulene Hinds
Helio Castroneves, the two-time Indy 500 winner and Dancing With The Stars champion, is awaiting a March 2 trial in U.S. District Court in Miami. He is charged with failing to pay taxes on more than $5 million in income during a four-year period. He says after his trial is over he is, “very confident,” he will resume his IndyCar racing career.
“I can’t wait to be back in the race car and do what I love most…race,” Helio Castroneves said.
Helio Castroneves’ Penske Racing Team has replaced him with driver, Will Power. Will Power will drivehis No. 3 car during preseason testing and, if needed, in races this season. The IndyCar season opens April 5 in St. Petersburg. Helio Castroneves said Penske Racing’s decision is best for everyone, as he needs to continue focusing on his trial. He said his legal team told him to expect the trial to last about three weeks.
The temporary replacement will allow the possibility for Helio Castroneves to return if he is acquitted. Penske president Tim Cindric said, “If Helio is ready to go at St. Pete and he’s in a situation where he’s ready for the rest of the year, the No. 3 car is his.”He addded, “The easy thing in this situation might be to say, Hey in 2010, Helio we’ll talk about it then and just get on with 2009. But we didn’t feel like that’s the right thing to do. The guy has been with us for nine years, he’s done a great job, won a lot of races and he’s great for the sport.”
“It’s real difficult to see a guy on such a high after everything he went through with Dancing With The Stars,” Tim Cindric said. “Now seeing him go through this situation, it’s very difficult. But at the same time, I’m confident if there’s anybody going to get through in a positive way, it’s this guy.”
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Photo by: Jonathan Ferrey/AFP/Getty Images