Keselowski wins rain-shortened NNS race at Kentucky

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Brad Keselowski was declared the winner of tonight’s NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Kentucky Speedway after a thunderstorm forced NASCAR’s hand in calling the race after 170 of the scheduled 200 laps. The race had been under a short red-flag period for precipitation at the time of NASCAR’s decision.

Keselowski was eighth off of pit road after a wave of stops under caution at Lap 143, but quickly charged up to the front. He got past Matt Crafton for second at Lap 150, then chased down Elliott Sadler in a few extra laps to take the lead for good.

At Lap 163, the yellow flag emerged again for rain and on Lap 170, the cars were called down to pit road in what would eventually prove to be the end of the event.

“It’s certainly been a great race for us – I didn’t want it to end this way, but what a great car,” Keselowski told ESPN in Victory Lane. “We drove it to the front – didn’t qualify where we wanted, but [crew chief] Jeremy Bullins and the team did a great job.

“I feel like I need to drive this car. The last two drivers before me have won races in it…This is the type of car that you get once a year if you’re lucky. Driving this car, I feel like Jimmie Johnson – it’s just a rocket.”

Upon receiving word that he was the winner, Keselowski drove the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford onto the tri-oval portion of the speedway and proceeded to do a celebratory burnout. His efforts, however, yielded no plumes of smoke from the rain-soaked track.

Sadler finished second, followed by Crafton in third, Brian Vickers in fourth and Kyle Busch in fifth.

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.”