Busch credits Hamlin for JGR’s success at Richmond

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Kyle Busch has a chance to win five straight spring races at Richmond International Raceway tonight, but while he’s clearly has found the rhythm at RIR, he also credits fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin as a key reason for he and his team’s success there. Hamlin is out of action tonight as he continues to heal up after sustaining a fractured vertebrae in a crash earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway.

“I think a lot of it comes from Denny, being that it’s his home track,” said Busch. “I’ve been good there in Hendrick and JGR cars. But Denny and I really feed off each other an awful lot in Richmond. We use each other a ton there just to be sure we can beat the rest of the competition, of course.

“We do like similar setups there, unlike other mile-and-a-half tracks or two-mile tracks where we don’t run very similar setups. Richmond is one of those places where we both know what it takes to get around and we’re both similar to one another in that we both run well.”

Gibbs drivers have won six of the last 10 races overall at RIR (Busch with the aforementioned four wins, and Hamlin with two from the fall Richmond races in 2009 and 2010). But it would appear that the field has to go through Busch in particular this evening in the Toyota Owners 400. The Rowdy One boasts an average finish of 5.4 in 16 career Cup starts there; that’s the best amongst all active drivers. Also, in those 16 starts at RIR, he’s earned 12 Top-5 finishes.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”