Helio Castroneves

                       One in a periodic series catching up with IndyCar Series drivers

The past month has afforded IZOD IndyCar Series championship runner-up Helio Castroneves the opportunity to slow down if only a bit.

But the Team Penske driver, who was in Detroit on Nov. 20 to help launch ticket sales for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, is ready to turn the page on 2013 and gear up for a 2014 season that has some changes for the team he's driven for since 2000.

He'll be back on the track Dec. 9 at Auto Club Speedway and Dec. 11 at Phoenix International Raceway to shake down a car for new teammate Juan Pablo Montoya.

Catching up with Helio Castroneves:

Q: Is it important for you to take a break, get away to reconnect with family, yourself and relax after a long season?

CASTRONEVES: Yes. It's the first time I've done it, to be honest. (Significant other) Adriana (Henao) always complains that I never take a vacation because I enjoy taking vacation (while) working. It's like a work-cation as they say. I ended up going to Rio for a few days (during a recent trip to Brazil) for an appearance at a Hitachi event.

It's been like that the last few years. I went to Australia for a V8 Supercars event. Last year, fortunately, we had Dancing with the Stars, so I couldn't. It was very tough. It was very brutal on everyone. But I do feel it's great to have this off time, especially after the season that was so long and so compact.

I guarantee you that next year is going to be the same, so I'm going to take every opportunity I can to spend the time with the family and recharge the batteries so next year we'll be ready to go.

Q: After coming so close to winning the championship in 2013, do you reflect on the season in the offseason or say, 'Good job; let's move on?'

CASTRONEVES: I've already moved on. Last year was yesterday's news. 2014 is coming. I'm already working, thinking and acting as if 2014 is right around the corner, which it is. It was a great season for the entire Team Penske No. 3, but now, it's over.

Q: What are your thoughts about your new teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya?

CASTRONEVES: It will be interesting. I know him and Will (Power) will know him as well. I feel that it's going to be dynamic. We'll have a lot of fun. He's a Latin guy, so if he gets angry that will probably be more fun with the jokes that we might play.

I think he'll fit in well. People talk about the way Team Penske works, but we try to get everybody involved and in sync because getting a rhythm will benefit the team, which is the goal. He's a talent, no question about it. We'll be competitive, but it will be a healthy competition. But the most important thing is to help Team Penske.

Q: What does it mean to you to have the longevity with Team Penske? You've been there since 2000?

CASTRONEVES: To be involved with such an incredible organization says a lot about the type of loyalty, or marriage as we say. I'm happy with the team and I feel the same way as they treat me. When you have that combination, that understanding, and everybody trying to reach for the same goal, it's a perfect match.

I admire a lot not only the way the team works, but also I admire Roger (Penske) a lot. The way he conducts himself to everyone - not only as a businessman, but as a human being. To have that type of a person leading the way makes you continue to do your best. I feel blessed to be in that circumstance, but I'm pushing myself to achieve the goals that I want because I know the goals I want are the same for team and that makes everybody happy. I'm still learning so much with the team. I'll always be grateful.

Q: You keep learning something new, improving your race craft, every year?

CASTRONEVES: Absolutely. In life, it doesn't matter what it is, you're learning until your six feet under the ground. The point is we learn. Those are the words of wisdom of (Rick) Mears. I'm listening. I listen a lot and in the environment that I work, I try to listen a lot more than I talk.