Kyle Larson finishes runner-up for third time in 2014, but knows first Cup win is coming

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For the third time this season, Kyle Larson finished runner-up in a Sprint Cup race, once again depriving him of his first win in NASCAR’s premier series.

But Larson, who finished second in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, doesn’t seem overly concerned.

He knows his first win is coming.

“Another second, but you can’t be too disappointed in that,” Larson told ESPN. “The wins are going to be coming, so I just have to be patient. Every time I’ve been in the top 3 or getting close like this, it’s going to make the win feel that much better.”

Sure, it may be frustrating to come so close yet again – that includes five other top-five finishes for a total of eight in the first 30 Cup races in his rookie season – but Larson is maintaining an even keel about it all.

He can take some consolation that he gave race winner Joey Logano everything he could handle in the closing laps, but just came up a bit short.

“I don’t know if he was any better than us or we were better than him,” Larson said. “I thought we were pretty equal. We were running the same laps (times) the last run.

“Our Target Chevy was really good. … It’s a good finish. We were just so even, I couldn’t do anything, but I couldn’t get a run on him in traffic.”

Later in a post-race press conference in the infield media center, Larson further dissected his late run with Logano.

“I stayed within probably six or seven car lengths for 10 to 12 laps, and once I got closer, I got pretty loose,” he said. “So I was trying to run even closer to the wall to get some of that air out of my rear spoiler.

“It was still too loose. I don’t think there was anything I could have done there at the end to get any closer than I did.”

Larson appears to be a shoe-in to win this year’s Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year over chief rival Austin Dillon. Sunday marked the 21st race that Larson has been the highest-finishing rookie.

“That’s kind of a goal we set out each week is to be the highest-finishing rookie and to be in the top 10, and the way we’ve been running, we want to be in the top 5 now every week,” Larson said. “We’ve beat Austin quite a bit in that.

“We’ve got a pretty sizable point lead in the Rookie of the Year. I hope I can pull it off. I don’t see why I wouldn’t. It would be a great award for me.”

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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.”