Zap2it: You did a nice tribute to your deceased comrade, Dan Wheldon, after you won last year’s IndyCar season opener at St. Petersburg, Fla. Were you good friends?
Helio Castroneves: Well, he was a colleague of ours; he was a friend of ours. Certainly, he was a guy who’s in our generation. And man, it was just so hard to have a tragedy scenario the last race in Vegas [in October 2011], and all of a sudden he’s not there. So now that I’m a father, and I have one little girl, a 3-year-old, you kind of think about those things: How can this happen in this modern age, with such safe cars and things like that? But that’s just to prove that that’s the sad part of our sport. Unfortunately it’s still a very dangerous sport, and that’s what we have to face, and we just have to deal with it and keep going.
Zap2it: Have you found that your victory on “Dancing With the Stars” in 2007 has opened up doors for you in television?
Helio Castroneves: Oh, big time. It’s something that I never expected, to be able to do it, but yes, you’re right. We’ve been able to cross [into] some scenarios that I never thought [possible], but it’s great. It’s great that we’re able to be in that area, and hopefully we’re able to bring more attention to IndyCar because of that.
Zap2it:?How much longer do you want to keep racing?
Helio Castroneves: As long as I’ve got the fire, man. Right now, my biggest idol is Mark Martin. He is the man, I’ll tell you, because … he’s achieving a lot of things that are impressive. So hopefully we can … keep driving and kick some ass.