The new EcoBoost livery (Ford photo)

Ford EcoBoost one day out from record speed run attempt at Daytona

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Although the 2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Series season is in the books, preparations for 2014 in the merged Tudor United SportsCar Championship are well underway.

One new element of the merged series, in the Prototype class, will be the debut of Ford’s new 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost® racing engine for Daytona Prototypes. A direct-injected, twin-turbo engine may shake up the status quo in DP and Michael Shank Racing is the first team to confirm its use. Shank, a racing lifer, fielded two cars in 2013.

On Wednesday, the new engine will be put to the test from the off because the team is attempting a record speed run at Daytona International Speedway. Colin Braun will be on hand to pilot the team’s DP with the new engine and try to break the mark held by Bill Elliott, a 210.364 mph lap, in 1987. For reference, Braun wasn’t even born yet when that record was set.

“It’s really a privilege to have an opportunity to put your name in the record books like this,” Shank said in a release. “It is almost inconceivable that this record has stood for such a long time, so it’s pretty special to be involved. We worked a long time to develop our relationship with Ford to be in a position to take on projects like this. Anytime you can get in the record books, it is a great opportunity and just builds on what this company has done.”

Shank’s team won the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2012 with Ford power, and drivers Ozz Negri, John Pew, AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson. The team will run at least one and possibly two DPs in the Prototype class in 2014.

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.”