A few other tidbits from Friday in Detroit

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Here’s a few other noteworthy morsels from Friday here in Detroit, for the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Chevrolet Indy Dual at Detroit:

Sebastien Bourdais will make his 100th start in open-wheel racing on Saturday. He has 31 wins, 31 poles and four consecutive Champ Car titles (2004-’07) in his career, although he has yet to score a podium finish since his return to IndyCar in 2011.

“It doesn’t make you any younger, does it?” the Dragon Racing driver pondered. “But obviously I am just very fortunate to be around and try to get to run a lot. I still enjoy it as much as I used to enjoy it.”

Ryan Briscoe didn’t have the smoothest of first days for Panther Racing in Detroit. The Australian will start 21st for the first race of the weekend, and his day included a spin. Although the chance to drive was unexpected, Briscoe was at least prepared, even though he’s running a seat made last-minute and Townsend Bell’s steering wheel.

“I wasn’t preparing for it at all, but I did just spend the whole last month in an IndyCar and I feel like I am comfortable in the cockpit again,” he said.

Quicken Loans-sponsored driver AJ Allmendinger nearly advanced out of group one in Q1, a tenth off Dario Franchitti in sixth, but will start 13th. It was a good effort for Allmendinger, who hasn’t been in a wet session since 2006 in Champ Car.

KV Racing Technology came down to Earth with a resounding thud in qualifying on Friday after its win in the Indianapolis 500 with Tony Kanaan. Simona de Silvestro qualified 18th, Kanaan 20th, and will each advance one spot thanks to a 10-spot grid penalty applied to Graham Rahal.

IndyCar isn’t the only series racing in Detroit this weekend. Polesitters in GRAND-AM’s Rolex Series include Jordan Taylor (No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP), Max Papis (No. 61 R. Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari F458) and Tom Long (No. 70 SpeedSource MAZDA6), and in the Pirelli World Challenge are Johnny O’Connell (No. 3 Cadillac Racing) and Mark Wilkins (No. 38 Kia Motors America Kia Optima).

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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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.”