What to watch for: IndyCar Toronto Race 2 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

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DIXON AIMS FOR THE SWEEP

With his second victory in a row yesterday, Scott Dixon has turned the IZOD IndyCar Series championship into a three-horse race. He’s charged to within 44 points of leader Helio Castroneves, and he’ll be aiming for the doubleheader sweep today from pole position – which could help him stay ahead of a potentially chaotic standing start. Dixon was second-fastest in the warmup, so he definitely has the pace to pull off another Toronto win. If he can do it, he’ll also come away with a $100,000 bonus for taking both doubleheader races this weekend.

RHR UNDER PRESSURE

One of those title combatants, Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, has started to lose touch with Castroneves thanks to problems in the last two races. Yesterday in Race 1, electrical issues caused him to stall on pit exit twice and he also went into the Turn 3 tires late in the race while trying to pass teammate E.J. Viso. With Castroneves continuing to log consistent results ahead of him and Dixon making his way into the title picture, RHR needs a good result this afternoon to stop the bleeding. He’ll go off from Row 2 alongside Castroneves and right behind pole sitter Dixon.

STANDING START – TAKE 2

The highly anticipated IndyCar debut of standing starts failed to go off yesterday as Josef Newgarden’s machine stalled while the field was gridded up on the main straight. Instead, Race 1 began with a traditional rolling start, triggering a chorus of boos from those in attendance. Fortunately, IndyCar made the right call for the fans at the track and at home, and they’ll give it another shot today. For the series’ sake, let’s hope it goes off this time…

RETURN OF MUNOZ

With Ryan Briscoe sustaining a broken wrist in an incident during yesterday’s race, Panther Racing has called in Firestone Indy Lights championship leader Carlos Munoz to take over the No. 4 Chevrolet for the second event of the Toronto weekend. Munoz’s impressive runner-up performance at the Indianapolis 500 made us wonder when he’d get another shot with the big cars, and while it’s not ideal that he received it through another driver’s injury, it’ll be interesting to see whether he’ll show patience or be aggressive today in his second career IndyCar start.

Watch today’s Race 2 of the Honda Indy Toronto online and on your mobile device.

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.”