Smokey’s on Helio’s bumper

IndyCar champion Helio Castroneves showed some fancy footwork Friday in Miami — the kind he didn’t use to win “Dancing With the Stars” or display at a South Beach nightclub.

Castroneves introduced the steel shuffle when he appeared in U.S. District Court in shackles and handcuffs on charges of federal income tax evasion.

But that didn’t keep him from winning the 10-hour, 1,000-mile sports car race with Penske Racing teammate Ryan Briscoe on Saturday at Braselton, Ga.

Castroneves drove like he was being chased.

The popular driver was indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy and six counts of tax evasion for purportedly failing to report to the IRS about $5.5 million in income between 1999 and 2004. Each count carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.

After posting a $10 million bond Friday, an emotional Castroneves said, “I’m a race car driver, and I’m going to treat this like a race.”

As one reporter noted, “Problem is, he’s got the IRS on his tail.”

After winning the sports car race, Castroneves and Briscoe scaled a nearby fence in keeping with the tradition Castroneves started after winning his first Indianapolis 500 in 2001.

The next fence he meets, however, could be topped with barbed wire.

• NO GREAT SAGE — The Houston Texans outplayed the Indianapolis Colts for the first 55 minutes Sunday before allowing three touchdowns points in a 132-second span. Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels had a hand in each of the three scores with two lost fumbles and an interception, and the Colts won, 31-27.

The most remarkable blunder was when Rosenfels leaped for a heroic first down on the possession after the first of the Colts’ three TDs.

“I kept waiting for him to slide or something. I didn’t know what he was doing,” Colts cornerback Marlin Jackson said.

The daredevil move brought a smile to the face of Colts defensive lineman Raheem Brock, who said, “When he went up in the air, I thought, ‘I’m gonna put this guy’s lights out.’ He did, and we put his lights out.”

Linebacker Gary Brackett recovered Rosenfels’ fumble and went 68 yards to pull the Colts to within three points.

“So the Texans lost another game. Is this supposed to be news? Losing is what this franchise does best,” wrote Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle.

• CUBS, R.I.P. — “A team of psychiatrists, theologians, numerologists and seamheads could convene at a secret location on the North Side in search of an explanation for the Cubs’ latest October meltdown,” writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.

He credits the sweep by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League division series as “a total team effort.”

“And who is the postseason goat? Should it be divided equally among the players and the manager, the chairman and the Greek priest, or should $137 million outfielder Alfonso Soriano be acknowledged for his 1-for-14 performance against the Dodgers?

“It’s going to be a long winter,” said Soriano, who suggests Cubs fans should be patient.

Just like they have been for the past 100 years.


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