NASCAR: Austin Dillon survives G-W-C for Pocono Truck victory

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It took Green-White-Checkered to settle today’s Pocono Mountains 150, but Austin Dillon withstood the pressure and pulled away to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Pocono Raceway.

A rash of late yellows set the stage for the G-W-C finish. With six laps to go, Tyler Reddick and German Quiroga made contact that caused Reddick to crash and bring out a caution.

But Reddick kept going and on the restart with three laps left, he got some payback by spinning Quiroga coming off of Turn 2. Unfortunately for Reddick, that drew the wrath of NASCAR, who told him to park his truck for the remainder of the race.

Meanwhile, Dillon and fellow Sprint Cup regular Clint Bowyer led the field to the green flag on Lap 62, two laps past the race’s scheduled distance.

Bowyer, filling in for John Wes Townley in the No. 05 Athenian Motorsports Toyota Tundra, was quickly gobbled up on the restart while Dillon and his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Silverado rode off into the proverbial sunset.

The former Camping World Truck Series champion would take the checkered flag by 1.975 seconds over Johnny Sauter. Joey Coulter finished third, followed by Bowyer in fourth and Ryan Blaney in fifth.

For a while, it appeared pole sitter Kyle Larson would challenge Dillon for Truck supremacy on the Tricky Triangle. Larson led 21 of 60 laps but shortly after pitting for right side tires on Lap 35, his No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevy started to slow down with engine issues.

The problems under the hood ultimately relegated Larson to an 18th place finish. He’ll be hoping for better luck in tomorrow’s 400-mile Sprint Cup race at Pocono, which he’ll start from pole position.

Blaney was able to retain his CWTS points lead by seven points over Sauter. The series now prepares for its next race at Michigan International Speedway in two weeks.

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.”