NASCAR notes: Dave Blaney, Brian Keselowski announce 2014 plans

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A couple more minor bits of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series news have emerged in the last 24 hours or so, in the form of two more confirmed entrants for at least the Daytona 500 and possibly beyond.

  • Via NASCAR.com, Dave Blaney, who lost his seat at Tommy Baldwin Racing after three years to the sponsored Michael Annett, will drive the No. 77 Ford for Randy Humphrey, with crew chief Peter Sospenzo. Humphrey worked with Mark Smith on the No. 19 Toyota that frequently started-and-parked in 2013. Blaney, now 51, started 35 of 36 races last year with a best finish of 16th at Talladega in May. His best non-restrictor-plate race finish was at Fontana in March, 21st.
  • Brian Keselowski, Brad’s older brother, announced via Twitter he’ll return to the No. 92 car in 2014. The older Keselowski struggled mightily to get up to pace in the new Generation-6 car at the 2013 Daytona Speedweeks. Whether he runs any races beyond the Daytona 500 remains to be seen. Brian Keselowski has three career Cup starts, two last year and the 2011 Daytona 500.

Chances are high we’ll be writing much more about Blaney’s son Ryan, a Team Penske prodigy, and Brad Keselowski compared to Brian this year. Still, Daytona can throw a curveball and if either driver makes the field and survives the inevitable “Big One,” they could be in for good days.

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.”