Keselowski finishes 12th after late stop for fuel

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Brad Keselowski has always had a ‘win or bust’ mindset, but the reigning Sprint Cup champion was forced to play conservatively when it became clear that fuel mileage would not work out for him in the closing laps of today’s Pure Michigan 400.

After a Kyle Busch spin brought out the yellow with 42 laps to go, Keselowski stayed on the track in order to take the lead. But after having pitted about 10 laps beforehand, he was going to have to try and stretch his final fuel load out in order to win.

Busch spun again with 27 laps to go, but Keselowski’s No. 2 Penske Racing Ford team apparently figured that they were going to need too many more caution laps to make their strategy work out. Thus, the call was made to bring Keselowski in for a splash, kicking him back to 17th for the Lap 177 restart.

“It is the same deal every week. The yellows fall exactly the wrong way to screw up our strategy,” Keselowski said after he climbed back to 12th at the finish. “That can’t keep going that way. Its like Black Jack, you aren’t going to keep turning 15 or 16 on every hand. Eventually, you are going to turn a good hand. We just didn’t catch it today.”

But while Keselowski remains winless with three races left before the Chase, that 12th-place result looks a heck of a lot better than what it could have been without that last stop. Furthermore, it allowed him to stay in the Top 10 of the standings at eighth position, four points ahead of 10th-place Greg Biffle.

Of course, none of that was much solace to Keselowski, who said following his runner-up performance last weekend at Watkins Glen that he would rather “be a Wild Card with four or five wins than be a guy in the Chase with zero wins.”

“I guess we made the right call, but I ain’t gonna like it,” he said on Sunday.

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.”