NASCAR: Penske, Roush Fenway squads test at Texas Motor Speedway

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Two teams on the opposite ends of the Chase spectrum tested this afternoon on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway.

Team Penske’s duo of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano joined Roush Fenway Racing’s trio of Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the session, which was open to the public.

Keselowski and Logano have locked themselves into the Contender Round of the Chase already with wins at Chicagoland (Keselowski) and New Hampshire (Logano).

But the fate of RFR’s two Chasers, Edwards and Biffle, remains in doubt. Going into this Sunday’s Challenger Round finale at Dover, Edwards sits eighth at just eight points over the cutoff while Biffle is 14th at six points behind.

Both of them need to be in the Top 12 after Dover to join the Penske pair in the Contender Round.

Today, Edwards acknowledged that Roush Fenway’s decision to test on the 1.5-mile Fort Worth oval was “kind of a risk” since he’s not yet locked in.

“…This race is obviously not for a while and we’ve got other things to focus on,” he said to TMS. “But we do feel like things that we find here at Texas could apply at Dover, Kansas, Charlotte, all the mile-and-a-half [tracks in the Chase].”

Biffle chimed in: “It is critical and that is why we are here testing. Trying to figure out our program for these mile-and-a-halves and a lot of times when you find speed at these places that transfers to shorter tracks as well. We are working hard to try and find some speed.”

Meanwhile, Logano got back to work just one day after taking home the lobster in New Hampshire.

“That’s how we got to do it,” said Logano, who defeated Jeff Gordon in green-white-checkered to win at Texas in April. “We got to keep fighting hard until the end of this Chase.

“This was planned before we went to Loudon. [It is] great we were able to get the win, but we flew down here last night – got here around midnight and got ready for the test today.”

Texas will host the second race in the Eliminator Round in November, but while Logano said that his team’s presence at TMS fit their style of always looking ahead, he’s not about to slack off at Dover’s “Monster Mile.”

“We still want to go up there and have a shot at winning it,” he said. “The fact that we’re in the next round doesn’t make us just say ‘We’re taking an off weekend this week and focusing on the next one.’

“We need to keep that momentum going. We want to go out there and win races. We want to keep this wave rolling as long as we can. So that means we just keep doing what we’ve been doing all year, focus on one track at a time, get prepared for it and execute the plan when we 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.”