Will Kimmel to attempt Nationwide-ARCA doubleheader Saturday

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JOLIET, Ill. — Will Kimmel is going to be a very busy man Saturday.

Kimmel is scheduled to race in Saturday’s Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in suburban Chicago. The race begins at 3:45 pm ET.

But while most of his competitors will call it a day once the checkered flag drops, Kimmel’s day will just be half over.

He’ll catch a flight and jet down to Salem, Ind. — a distance of about 275 air miles — and land on a little airstrip (with the bigger-sounding name of Salem Municipal Airport) adjacent to turns one and two of Salem Speedway for Saturday night’s Federated Car Care Fall Classic. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 7:15 pm ET, although ARCA officials may give Kimmel a little wiggle room to get into his car so the race can start.

“I’ll just go as fast as I can when the race starts and hope it gets done early,” said Kimmel, who will drive for TriStar Motorsports in the Nationwide event. “As soon as it’s over, I’ll come out of the car, change on the way to the airport and get in a plane that’s running and ready when we get there.”

Then, as Kimmel said so succinctly, it’ll be “hammer down” en route to Salem.

Veteran ARCA driver Chris Bailey will practice Kimmel’s ride there and keep the seat warm until Kimmel arrives. If the Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland goes long, Bailey may also have to start the race for Kimmel.

Bailey is scheduled to qualify Kimmel’s ARCA ride and could start in his qualified position if that occurs. However, if Kimmel arrives before the green flag, he’ll have to start from the back of the field.

“If we make it back in time, we’ll be good,” Kimmel said. “I really think we’ve got a good shot to win it. … We’ve just gotta get there.”

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.”