Dale Jr.: No cause for concern about sponsorship

Leave a comment

Despite a sizable chunk of his 2013 campaign still missing sponsorship, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is choosing not to fret over the situation.

According to the Sporting News, Hendrick Motorsports has about a dozen races with NASCAR’s most popular driver left to sell this season after PepsiCo’s decision to scale back its sponsorship plan from 20 races to five races with Diet Mountain Dew.

But Earnhardt feels that there’s no cause for concern.

“Anybody who has got any sense about how the corporate world works knows that it’s too late into the season, too late in the year to expect to put together a package for the rest of the season that is going to turn into a multi-year deal,” he said on Friday. “It’s just all the dollars and cents are accounted for at this point in the year.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t put some things together and do some creative stuff with some people and some partners that we already have or whatever…It is important to try to fill out what we have this season and we will. I don’t have any doubt at all that we will get that done.

“I think we almost have to look forward beyond that to try to find out who is going to be the partner that we can put a long term deal together that matches up with what we want to do in the future.”

While that situation continues to evolve, Earnhardt is aiming to get himself squared away for the upcoming Chase. He sits a steady fifth in the standings and is in position to easily make NASCAR’s post-season run.

The Brickyard has not been a strong track for him in his Cup career; he has just one Top-5 finish in 13 starts there. On the other hand, that Top-5 run came in last year’s race, in which he finished fourth.

As for tomorrow’s 20th anniversary running of the Brickyard 400, he’s slated to go off from 15th.

“We would have liked to run a little bit better than that,” he said after his qualifying run today. “The guys did a good job. They made a lot of changes during practice…We just struggled all day in qualifying trim and the guys made some good changes.

“We like the speed in race trim. We’ll have to go back to the hauler and talk a lot about the things we can do.”

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
Leave a comment

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.”