Elliott Sadler to drive MWR No. 55 in final four races of 2013

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With Brian Vickers sidelined for the rest of the 2013 Sprint Cup season, Elliott Sadler has been called upon to replace him in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota for the final four events at Martinsville Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Sadler, who has earned three victories over 431 career Sprint Cup starts, currently runs for Joe Gibbs Racing full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He has run one Cup race this season at Kansas in April, and failed to qualify at Talladega back in May.

“Elliott has all the attributes we were looking for,” team co-owner Michael Waltrip said in a statement. “He’s experienced, familiar with Toyota, has a great attitude plus he’s a heck of a driver. We’ll pair him with [crew chief] Scott Miller and the No. 55 guys and I know they’ll have the Aaron’s Dream Machine at the front of the field. I also want to thank everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota for letting us borrow Elliott for a few races.”

Last week, Vickers announced that he would be unable to finish out the remainder of the year after doctors discovered a blood clot in his right leg. The Thomasville, North Carolina native has been put on anti-coagulation medication to treat the clot, but is expected to be able to resume driving before the start of the 2014 season.

In his own thoughts, Sadler made sure to give Vickers – his teammate at JGR in the Nationwide Series – his best wishes.

“First, I am already a teammate of Brian’s at Joe Gibbs Racing and it is really tough to see him going through this again,” said Sadler. “Both of us have fought hard to get back in a position to win at NASCAR’s highest level. I am honored to have this opportunity to drive for MWR because I know their cars are competitive.

“I want to thank Rob Kauffman, Michael and Aaron’s for giving me this chance. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers will be for Brian to have a quick recovery.”

As previously announced, Waltrip will step into the No. 55 Toyota for this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

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.”