Marcos Ambrose fastest in second Cup practice at Kansas

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On another cold and windy morning at Kansas Speedway, Marcos Ambrose topped the time sheets in the first of two Sprint Cup practice sessions today on the 1.5-mile oval.

Ambrose clocked in at 191.652 miles per hour in his No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford. He was followed by the Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Jamie McMurray (191.584) and rookie Kyle Larson (191.096), who have both been among the better non-Chase drivers so far this postseason.

Speaking of the Chase, only two of the remaining 12 drivers in title contention were among the Top 10 in this particular practice: Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards was fourth-quickest (191.076) and Richard Childress Racing’s Ryan Newman was eighth-quickest (190.235).

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (fifth), A.J. Allmendinger (sixth), Greg Biffle (seventh), Austin Dillon (ninth), and Aric Almirola (10th) were also represented in the Top 10.

As for the other Chasers, they went like this: Kyle Busch in 11th, Joey Logano in 12th, pole sitter Kevin Harvick in 13th, Kasey Kahne in 14th, Jeff Gordon in 16th, Jimmie Johnson in 17th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 21st, Brad Keselowski in 26th, Matt Kenseth in 27th, and Denny Hamlin in 28th.

McMurray turned in the most laps out of anyone in the session with 41 laps, followed by Kurt Busch with 36, Casey Mears with 35, and both Larson and Justin Allgaier with 34.

Final practice for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 will take place later today at 2 p.m. ET.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kansas – Saturday Morning Practice Times

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.”