Joey Logano sets Michigan track record in pole run

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For the 13th time this season, a NASCAR qualifying track record has gone down – this time, at the hands of Joey Logano, whose lap today at 203.949 miles per hour in the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford was enough to claim pole for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Logano was one of three drivers to eclipse the previous MIS qualifying record of 203.241 miles per hour, set in June of 2012 by Marcos Ambrose (203.241 mph).

His lap was also the ninth-quickest pole lap in Sprint Cup Series history, but a mere 44 one-thousandths of a second ahead of Kurt Busch, who turned in a lap at 203.695 miles per hour in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet to claim his sixth front-row start of the year.

Behind them in Row 2 will be championship leader Jimmie Johnson (203.470) and Mark Martin, while Jeff Burton (203.114) and the soon-to-be free agent Juan Pablo Montoya (202.988) make up Row 3.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Michigan native Brad Keselowski, and last week’s winner, Kyle Busch, round out the Top 10 on Sunday’s grid. As for other notables, Greg Biffle – who won at MIS this past June – will roll off 16th, while Austin Dillon will start 27th as he fills in for the injured Tony Stewart. Danica Patrick will start 28th.

Scott Riggs was the only driver that failed to qualify this afternoon.

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.”