Ryan Truex’s status for Michigan uncertain; Harvick tops in 2nd Cup practice (UPDATED)

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UPDATE (1:21 p.m. ET): While we wait for official word on Ryan Truex’s availability to race tomorrow at Michigan, Mike Massaro of ESPN has now tweeted that Truex’s potential replacements in the No. 83 BK Racing Toyota may not be able to do the job because they can’t fit in the driver’s seat.

Replying to USA Today’s Nate Ryan, Massaro tweets that it “sounds” like J.J. Yeley may now be the backup for Truex if he is not able to compete in tomorrow’s Pure Michigan 400.

Massaro had reported during today’s Sprint Cup final practice that BK was looking at Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton as potential subs.

The No. 83 did not turn a lap in that final practice session.

UPDATE (11:43 a.m. ET): ESPN’s Mike Massaro has provided an update on Ryan Truex’s status for tomorrow’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

According to Massaro’s report during Sprint Cup final practice, Truex was complaining of pain around his right collarbone – which he broke last spring – and was also suffering from a headache.

He has not yet been cleared to drive, so his BK Racing team is trying to come up with a backup plan just in case.

Per Massaro’s report, BK is looking at Camping World Truck Series drivers Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton to potentially drive Ryan Truex’s No. 83 on Sunday if necessary.

However, Crafton is apparently “first choice” since he got track time yesterday filling in for Martin Truex Jr. in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing car. Truex was absent in order to be with his girlfriend as she underwent surgery for ovarian cancer.

The second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice of the weekend at Michigan International Speedway was marred by a hard practice crash involving Cup rookie Ryan Truex.

The BK Racing driver wrecked while coming out of Turn 2. USA Today writer and NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan reports that Truex walked away from the crash with medical personnel, but NASCAR later confirmed that Truex would be taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.

MRN Radio’s Dave Moody has tweeted a shot of the rather significant damage on Truex’s No. 83 Toyota after the incident. Needless to say, it was a good hit:

Before his crash, Truex was one of 33 drivers that broke the 200 mile per hour mark during this morning’s practice – which was led by Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick and his lap of 203.183 mph in the No. 4 Chevrolet. SHR teammate Kurt Busch was right behind Harvick in second with his lap of 203.109 mph.

Sunday’s pole sitter, Jeff Gordon, was third on the speed charts (203.069). Fourth was Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. (203.017), and Richard Petty Motorsports’ Marcos Ambrose completed the Top 5 (202.891).

Watkins Glen winner A.J. Allmendinger, Kyle Larson, front row starter Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, and Greg Biffle filled Positions 6-10. Logano, who ran 17 laps in the practice, said he and his team were trying to take care of their equipment ahead of Sunday.

“It’s just so fast right now and there’s so much grip that it’s nothing like we’re gonna race later on,” he told ESPN. “It’s frustrating because if you sit in the garage, you’re going crazy and you feel like you’re missing out on something.

“But if you’re out there on the race track, you feel like you’re hurting your motor and you’re hurting things, because it’s qualifying speeds out there pretty much. The RPMs are so high, you don’t want to hurt your motor and not finish this thing.”

Final practice for the Cup contingent will take place later this morning at 11 a.m. ET.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Michigan – Second Practice Times

Helio Castroneves: ‘I have nothing to lose’ Sunday in bid for 4th Indy 500 win

All photos: IndyCar
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You might say Helio Castroneves comes into Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 with a “less is more” philosophy than he’s had in years past:

* No pressure

* No worrying about points

* No worrying about winning a championship

Take away all those things and the very popular Brazilian driver could be in the best position he’s ever been to achieve the biggest goal of his career:

Winning a fourth Indy 500, making him a member of motor racing’s most exclusive club, joining legendary drivers A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only drivers to conquer the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway four times each.

Like his car number, Castroneves has won the Indy 500 three times. He wants to change that number to four times in Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. Photo: IndyCar.

“For sure, I definitely don’t have much to lose in terms of points, championships, and things like that,” Castroneves told MotorSportsTalk earlier this week. “I don’t have to think that I don’t have a car to win, I’m not going to risk that much because there are still championship points (to earn if he was still racing full-time in the series).

“Not that I did that before, but if the situation occurs, people just need to know I have nothing to lose this time.”

Castroneves three prior triumphs in the 500 came in his first two years in the field – 2001 and 2002 – and again in 2009. In addition, he has finished twice in the last four editions of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing in 2014 and 2017.

Coming so close last year, losing to Takuma Sato by .201 of a second, is something Castroneves hasn’t forgotten about. To come so close to No. 4 has only made him more hungry to get it done on Sunday.

“Yeah, but if it were easy, we would likely have had more than four wins by now,” he said. “We’ve had opportunities in the past, the last four years we were really competitive, we were right there, especially in ’14 and ’17, we were right on it.

“Last year, I thought it was going to be the hardest 500 for me and look what happened: we were battling to the end for a victory,” Castroneves said. “It’s not just about trying hard, it’s about being there at the right place at the right time.

“And this place, Indianapolis, I’ve always said the track winds up choosing who is going to be the winner. Hopefully, with safety and luck, we’ll be part of it and be on the right side.”

Team owner Roger Penske decided after last season to put Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya as the chief drivers of Team Penske’s new two-car effort in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship sports car series.

When the announcement was first made, many feared that Castroneves had run out of chances to get that elusive No. 4 at Indy.

But Penske sweetened the deal for Helio to go sports car racing by promising he’d field a car for him at Indy. And Penske has proven to be a man of his word, giving Castroneves everything he needs to finally win No. 4.

“I feel we’ve prepared as much as a team, we’re doing everything possible in relation to preparation,” Castroneves said. “The preparation we had in the previous year helps us tremendously to give us an opportunity fighting there for a win, and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Castroneves has taken to the new style Indy car with aplomb. During the first week of practice leading up to last weekend’s qualifying, he was consistently one of the fastest drivers in the field.

The 43-year-old even topped the speed charts in the Fast Nine last Saturday before ending up eighth in the following day’s pole qualifying.

As a result, he’ll start Sunday’s race from the middle of Row 3, anchoring Team Penske’s four-man Top 8 starting lineup effort in the 500. When the green flag drops, to his left will be Danica Patrick and to his right will be four-time IndyCar champ and former 500 winner Scott Dixon.

And millions of others right behind him, so to speak.

“I feel the sense that everyone wants it to happen,” he said of winning No. 4. “We’re talking about being part of history here. The last guy to do it was Rick Mears in the ‘90s (1991).

“I mean, how cool would that be if I would be in the position and to see No. 4 in my era. I hear a lot of the fans, even those supporting different drivers, all saying ‘Man, I want to see you win No. 4.’ That just shows how special this place is.

“(The Indy 500) is part of a lot of people’s lives. I just would be very fortunate to hopefully to have this generation see someone do No. 4.”

While he’d rather not think about missing out on a fourth win at Indy for a ninth straight year, Castroneves is using reverse psychology somewhat.

He’s going into Sunday’s biggest race in the world fully believing he will finally win No. 4.

And if he does, forget the idea that he would never come back to race at Indy again.

“Not at all. Why? You’re so close to getting four, and then when you get four, you stop it? It doesn’t make sense.

“I think I still have at least four or five more years, there’s no question about it. As long as Roger (Penske) gives me the opportunity, I’m going to be going for it, for sure.”

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