Kevin Harvick to host firefighters that saved his family Sunday at Martinsville

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Sunday will be a kind of Thanksgiving Day for Kevin and Delana Harvick.

Sure, Kevin will be racing in the STP 500 Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway.

But the couple might not be there – let alone still alive – if it wasn’t for the efforts of firefighters from the Oak Ridge (N.C.) Fire department.

The first responders found and contained a smoldering fire within the Harvick’s house last November 27 before it became fully engulfed and did more damage – both property- and life-wise.

The Harvicks were awoken in the early hours of the morning by the sound of a smoke alarm. While they saw and smelled smoke, they didn’t detect any fire, but called the fire department to respond.

Smartest move they likely ever made in their lives.

The department responded quickly, and using thermal imaging equipment, found a simmering blaze between the basement ceiling and main floor of the house.

The Harvicks and son Keelan were able to get out of the house quickly and safely.

“If it weren’t for these guys, I wouldn’t have a house,” Harvick said in a team news release. “We didn’t think anything was actually on fire, because we couldn’t see any flames and figured the smoke was coming from the fireplace.”

Harvick and his son toured the Oak Hill fire station on Thursday and gave personal thanks to Chief Steve Simmons.

“Chief Simmons and his guys knew exactly what to do and were able to contain a small mess that could have been a very big mess,” Harvick said. “We’re very fortunate.”

Added Chief Simmons, “I cannot think of better example of how smoke detectors save lives than Kevin and DeLana’s story. They have a very nice home and lots of nice things, but the best investment they made in that house was the smoke alarm.”

To show further thanks, Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet team will host those firefighters who responded to the fire at Sunday’s STP 500 Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. The firefighters will also serve as honorary crew members and watch much of the race from atop the war wagon in Harvick’s pit stall.

Harvick’s race car will also carry a special “Smoke detectors save lives” decal recognizing both the firefighters and department for their life-saving efforts.

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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.”