Dixon emerging as new title rival for Castroneves (VIDEO)

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With the Honda Indy Toronto in the books, Helio Castroneves continues to lead the IZOD IndyCar Series championship. But his rear view mirrors are starting to fill up with the “Target red” of Scott Dixon.

And that’s the main focus for “The Iceman,” who now sits just 29 points behind Castroneves after completing a weekend sweep at Exhibition Place this afternoon. When NBC Sports Network’s Kevin Lee mentioned the $100,000 bonus he’d won for taking both races in the doubleheader, Dixon instead talked about the bigger picture.

“One hundred grand is good, but I’d rather take the points,” said Dixon after his third consecutive triumph in an eight-day span. “The points are what we’re here for…We’ll narrow it down and try to go for [the championship].”

Dixon has the momentum, and it bears noting that the next IndyCar race is at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Aug. 4, 3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network), where he is the two-time defending race champion and a four-time winner in his career.

And that could mean trouble for Castroneves, who had a relatively strong weekend in Toronto with a sixth-place finish on Saturday and a runner-up finish today. Even so, he couldn’t help but marvel at Dixon’s brilliance.

“[Dixon] was in another league,” Castroneves said to NBCSN. “I was pushing as hard as I could and I had a very good car, don’t get me wrong. But…Whatever he’s having for breakfast, I want it. Man, that was something.”

Castroneves had one final chance to get past Dixon on the last restart of the day with two laps to go but was unable to pull it off.

“I only had one “push to pass” [overtake] and I was trying to be smart with using the push-to-pass to keep up with Scott,” he said. “I was going for it, but in the end, it was really hard and Scott was smart. He’s not a rookie. We gotta work but we’re very happy with a good second-place.”

Meanwhile, the Toronto troubles continued for Ryan Hunter-Reay, who fell to third in the championship after contact with Will Power on that particular restart sent him into the wall near Turn 1. As a result of his 19th place finish, RHR is now 69 points behind Castroneves in the title race.

Three events ago, he had been just nine points behind him.

“Will was coming out from the bottom and I had a good run around the outside and I was right next to him,” Hunter-Reay told NBCSN. “He was sliding across and when I talked to him in the [medical car] that took us back, he said he got loose on the bottom and he just drove right up into us.

“There’s two lanes going through there and everybody kind of respects that. I don’t think he drove into me on purpose, but it took us out of the race.”

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

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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.”