Richard Petty: RTA wants to “make NASCAR bigger and better”

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Another key member of the Race Team Alliance has said that their nine-team consortium is not out to pick a fight with NASCAR.

In Indianapolis, seven-time Sprint Cup champion Richard Petty insisted that any perception of the RTA having grand plans to take over the sport is false.

The two-car Richard Petty Motorsports team is part of the RTA, which officially formed earlier this month.

“Our main deal is not to run NASCAR,” Petty said to reporters Friday at IMS. “Anything we do to tear NASCAR down is cutting our own throats.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make NASCAR bigger and better. Because if we don’t, then we’re out of business.”

The RTA has maintained a stance of wanting to create a consensus voice that can relay concerns to the sanctioning body and work on cost-cutting in multiple areas such as team travel, insurance, and parts.

Petty stayed on that track in his comments at IMS, likening the situation to a farmer’s co-op.

“So far, that’s my main objective,” he said. “Can I save on insurance? Can I save on travel? Can I save [on] some stuff that we’re doing for the race car. Can we save time at the racetrack, stuff like that that we’ll keep from having to overpay with what we’re doing right now.”

However, NASCAR CEO Brian France recently said that he didn’t think the RTA’s formation was necessary and that the sanctioning body would be “dealing with all of the team owners – not most of them, not the big ones, but all of them.”

As you’d figure, Petty disagrees with France’s sentiments.

“It’s really kind of a bad idea from the standpoint that NASCAR should be doing what we’re doing,” he said. “We belong to an organization…And NASCAR should be making the best deals they can for their organization.

“We see them do a lot of that, but they’re not doing it as much as maybe the new crowd wants.”

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.”