MILWAUKEE -- Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan were otherwise occupied on the Milwaukee Mile so they couldn't watch the telecast of their home country hosting the opening match of the FIFA World Cup. But they received updates.
"The main talk in Brazil is World Cup and has been for some time leading up to the tournament and the whole world is watching," Castroneves said. "I'd love to watch, too, but work comes first. Right now it's crazy there and I'm sure they're going to have a great time."
For the first time since 1950, Brazil is host to the 32-team international tournament at 12 venues. For the first time since the inaugural World Cup in 1930, all world champion teams (Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Uruguay) have qualified for the competition that continues through July 13. Spain is the defending champion, having defeated the Netherlands 1-0 in 2010.
Brazil will attempt to become the first nation to win the World Cup at home since France in 1998. The Brazilians were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the past two tournaments (France in 2006 and the Netherlands in 2010).
Brazil is the only country to have played in every World Cup tournament, winning five championships. Their last World Cup title was in 2002. Brazil is led by 22-year-old forward Neymar, who scored twice in Brazil's 3-1 victory.
"Hopefully, Brazil will go to the final," Castroneves added. "They have a great team. Winning the World Cup means an (improved) economic situation, better mood and it would be great for everyone."
With the international lineup of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers, everyone is tuned in to the competition even if they don't follow the sport during league play.
“It’s like any sport; when you don’t have any team you follow you’re not as interested. When you get to the World Cup I support my country. It means something,” Justin Wilson said.
Added Carlos Munoz: "I'm from Colombia and follow the national team, and it's exciting because it's the first time they have qualified in a long time (16 years). Everyone in Colombia is united about the football and we're expecting a lot."
The U.S. squad opens Group G play against Ghana on June 16.