Trucks: Jeb Burton climbs to top of Daytona test in afternoon

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After one of their drivers, Ben Kennedy, led this morning’s session, Turner Scott Motorsports remained atop Camping World Truck Series testing at Daytona International Speedway in the afternoon.

This time, it was Jeb Burton – the son of former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton – who led the second session and topped all of Monday’s proceedings with a lap of 191.144 mph in the No. 4 Chevrolet. Kennedy followed up his P1 morning run with the second-fastest time in the afternoon, logging a lap of 190.925 mph in the No. 31 Chevrolet and also turning the most laps in the afternoon with 106 circuits.

During today’s test, Jeb expressed his optimism about building upon a solid rookie season last year with Turner Scott Motorsports. He also felt the team would be able to get a handle on the new truck bodies that are debuting in the series.

“It seems like Turner Scott Motorsports is always ahead of the ballgame with new stuff,” said Jeb, who earned his first career CWTS win last June at Texas. “I’m excited. I think it could be an advantage for us. I feel like our guys are working really hard with this new body style in the wind tunnel and testing a lot trying to make it better.

“I’m really excited to be back with these guys. My team is pumped up, we’re ready to go. I feel like we’ve just got to be a little bit better this year and we can contend for the championship. We did all last year, we’ve just got to be a little bit better so we can go win some more races.”

After the two TSM Chevrolets were a trio of Toyota drivers – John Wes Townley (190.917), defending series champion Matt Crafton (190.634), and Darrell Wallace Jr. (190.577) – to complete the Top 5.

CWTS PRESEASON THUNDER – MONDAY AFTERNOON TIMES

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.”