Castroneves denies reported move to NASCAR on tap

INDIANAPOLIS -- Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves said Wednesday he doesn't plan to leave the IRL's IndyCar Series for NASCAR any time soon.

Refuting a story in Wednesday's editions of the Los Angeles Times that speculated on the Brazilian following former IRL stars Sam Hornish Jr. and Dario Franchitti to NASCAR as early as the 2009 season, Castroneves said his comments were taken out of context.

"It's kind of strange to print a statement like that," said Castroneves, who will start fourth in Sunday's 92nd running of the Indy 500. "I did not understand much. I found my English is apparently getting worst. [They] definitely took it out of context."

The interview in Los Angeles came Tuesday night when Castroneves attended the final show of this year's "Dancing With the Stars," which he won in 2007.

"They asked me questions about thinking about NASCAR," the 33-year-old Castroneves said. "Every driver [is] thinking about NASCAR or new challenges, let's put it this way. But it depends on the opportunity, and my opportunity right now is great being here in IndyCar, especially with the merger."

He was referring to the recent unification of the two American open-wheel racing series under the IRL umbrella, meaning all of the top drivers and teams are together at Indy for the first time since 1995.

"The Indy 500 is coming in a few days and I'm excited about everybody being together and the chance to make this series grow that the merger brings. It would be kind of odd for me to talk about changing to NASCAR right now.

"The future, I don't know what's going to happen. But, right now, the only thing I can say is I'm very much committed to my team. I love where I'm at and, hopefully, we can continue."

Castroneves, who has been with Team Penske since 2000, is under contract through the end of this season. Team owner Roger Penske also owns a three-car team in NASCAR's elite Sprint Cup series. And it was Penske who gave Hornish, the 2006 Indy 500 and series champion for his IRL team, the NASCAR ride.

Castroneves said he will discuss his future with Penske and team president Tim Cindric after the 500, but added, "That's the way we always do it with this team. It doesn't mean I'm going to go anywhere."