3-time NHRA Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon back in the saddle again, to race for Bob Vandergriff Jr.

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It’s almost a crime when a three-time champion is forced to sit on the sidelines and watch all his buddies racing except him.

That was the case for three-time National Hot Rod Association champion (2002, 2003 and 2010) Larry Dixon heading into the 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Having parted ways last July with Rapisarda Autosport International, Dixon was not picked up by another team for either the remainder of 2013 or the start of 2014.

But after the first five races of the 2014 season, Dixon will be back in the saddle in two weeks at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, Texas.

Dixon will drive a second dragster for Bob Vandergriff Jr. Racing. Vandergriff is defending Top Fuel winner at Houston.

“To say I’m thrilled to have BVR give me a shot to drive their second car would be an understatement,” Dixon said in an NHRA news release. “I appreciate the opportunity that BVR, Casedhole Solutions and Total Equipment And Service has shown me. It is a quality car with a talented group crewing on it. I’ll do everything I can on and off the track to help make this effort successful. Hopefully, an all BVR final is right around the corner.”

Dixon’s deal with Vandergriff is for a 10-race schedule over the remaining 18 races of the NHRA national event season.

“I’m excited to have Larry on board,” Vandergriff said. “He is a great driver and a family man who will fit in with our program perfectly.

“Anytime you can add a three-time champion to your program, it enhances the value proposition we are trying to build at BVR.”

Since he first earned his Top Fuel license in 1994, Dixon has won 62 races and reached the final round 108 times. He’s previously driven for Don Prudhomme, Al-Anabi Racing and Rapisarda Autosport.

Dixon’s car will be sponsored by Casedhole Solutions and Total Equipment and Service (T.E.A.S.).

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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.”