Can Logano re-ignite fading hopes for Chase?

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Joey Logano knows that he has a tall task ahead of him in staging a late run into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Winless so far in 2013, Logano sits 27 points out of the Top 10 with four “regular season” races remaining.

Considering the competition ahead of him, Logano is going to need a major rally to secure a Chase berth and admits that one more bad race would spell the end of things. But “Sliced Bread” is not ready to give up despite the situation.

“We have been solid through the season and there is no doubt in my mind we should be, like, fifth in points right now but the case is that we are not and we will keep working to get into the Chase,” Logano said on Friday after claiming pole for tomorrow’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

“We are a Chase-caliber team and I feel like even a championship-caliber team. We keep making our race cars faster. I am excited about that fact but I really want to get in the Chase and we have our work cut out for us right now.

“By no means are we out of it. I feel like we have a good shot and I like our chances to do it. We are one bad race from saying ‘We are out,’ though.”

Two races in particular have stuck Logano, currently 16th in the championship, in his current predicament. Going into the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona on the 4th of July weekend, he was 10th in the standings after he had gone on a run of five Top-10 finishes in the previous six races.

But a blown right-front tire sent Logano crashing into the wall at Daytona and saddled him with a 40th-place result. One week later at New Hampshire, another tire failure – this time, the left-rear – put him into the fence again and gave him another 40th-place finish.

Those two races sent Logano tumbling to 18th in the championship, and he’s been battling to get out of the hole ever since.

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.”