Cole Custer masters Gateway, becomes the youngest driver (16 years old) to ever win Truck Series pole

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16-year-old Cole Custer became the youngest driver to ever earn the pole in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and will lead the field to the green for Saturday night’s Drivin’ For Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park in suburban St. Louis.

Custer was fastest in the final practice session earlier in the day at the Madison, Illinois track, and then came right back to take the top starting spot in qualifying with a speed of 136.426 mph at 32.985 seconds. Both marks are new track records.

Even more surprising, it was Custer’s first-ever qualifying effort in a truck.

“I think we want to win, think we have a car capable of winning,” Custer said. “If we just bide our time and save our tires just a little bit and run a smart race, we’re going to be fine.”

Darrell Wallace Jr., just 20-years-old himself, was second-fastest (136.401 mph) and will start on the outside of the front row, followed by Erik Jones (136.289), Gray Gaulding (135.923),  Chase Pistone (135.743) and Jeb Burton (135.689).

Seventh- through 12th-fastest were Tyler Reddick (135.505), Joey Coulter (135.322), German Quiroga Jr. (135.155), Timothy Peters (135.123), Matt Crafton (134.981) and John Hunter Nemechek (134.823).

Only eight drivers in the 32-driver field have ever raced previously at Gateway.

 

Here’s the starting order for Saturday night’s Drivin’ For Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois:

Row 1 Cole Custer, Darrell Wallace Jr.

Row 2 Erik Jones, Gray Gaulding

Row 3 Chase Pistone, Jeb Burton

Row 4 Tyler Reddick, Joey Coulter

Row 5 German Quiroga Jr., Timothy Peters

 

Row 6 Matt Crafton, John Hunter Nemechek

Row 7 Johnny Sauter, Ryan Blaney

Row 8 John Wes Townley, Ron Hornaday Jr.

Row 9 Ben Kennedy, Taylor Malsam

Row 10 Mason Mingus, Ray Black Jr.

 

Row 11 Justin Jennings, Tyler Young

Row 12 Bryan Silas, T.J. Bell

Row 13 Ted Minor, Norm Bening

Row 14 Korbin Forrister, Charles Lewandoski

Row 15 Jennifer Jo Cobb, Scott Stenzel

Row 16 Caleb Roark, Adam Edwards

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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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.”