Kimball bounces back for Fast 6 run

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We teased it earlier this week in looking at him as a possible spoiler. But the way Charlie Kimball made this Firestone Fast 6, his second of 2013, wasn’t nearly as straightforward as his first in Barber in April.

Kimball had an off in the morning practice, losing control through Turn 1 and backing into the tire barriers. Although his car temporarily got airborne upon impact, it was a soft landing and he emerged unhurt.

From there, a full team effort from the Novo Nordisk and Target Chip Ganassi Racing crews helped prep Kimball’s backup car, so he could go out and drive it in qualifying. As soon as he did, he was right on pace.

“It was a great effort by all the Chip Ganassi Racing guys. There were as many red shirts from the Target side in the garage as there were orange shirts,” said the third-year driver. “They gave me the easy job of driving the racecar. They kept kicking me out of the garage, telling me to get out of the way. All I had to do while they changed the backup was get the car ready for me and all I had to do was go out and drive it.

“The boys deserved it,” he added. “We had a really good car all week, both starting at the test and yesterday’s practice. This morning we just got caught out by the track conditions, a little dampness under the bridge. That was unfortunate, but it was great to bounce back and get a top-five starting spot.”

Kimball’s orange-and-blue No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda split the Target twins; Scott Dixon lines up fourth as he seeks his fourth consecutive win this season and fifth in seven years at Mid-Ohio, and Dario Franchitti, in a blue-and-purple GE Reveal livery this weekend, starts sixth.

You can see the IZOD IndyCar Series’ 14th round of 2013 Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.

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.”