Brian Vickers takes 2015 Toyota Camry to track during Fontana tire test (VIDEO)

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As we told you yesterday, four Sprint Cup drivers are out at Auto Club Speedway in California testing for Goodyear in advance of the 2015 season.

But one of those drivers, Michael Waltrip Racing’s Brian Vickers, isn’t just testing tires. He’s also getting in laps with Toyota’s newest version of the Camry, which broke cover a few weeks ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR’s ban on private testing following this year’s Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway means that the Toyota camp doesn’t have much more time to have its new Camry get on the track. Of course, that makes Vickers’ work at Fontana important.

Even if it’s a bit of a bore from his perspective.

“I don’t know if you have ever been to a test, but it isn’t very exciting for a race car driver,” Vickers said. “I drive for a couple of laps, tell them what I feel, then the engineers will pour over the data, make some changes and back I go out on the track. We just repeat that throughout the day.

“It might not be as fun as racing but testing is where we learn what the Goodyear tires, our car and engine like and don’t like. I enjoy the science behind testing. The more you learn in testing, the better you will be in the race.

“With the reduction in testing planned for next season, days like this are very valuable. So far, I love what I see with the new Camry. It looks good, and drives good.”

Toyota will be the first of NASCAR’s three Cup manufacturers to update its race car in the current Generation-6 Era. Vickers’ teammate, Clint Bowyer, is hoping that they will have a much more competitive machine out of the box in 2015.

“It’s quite obvious that we missed the mark on this car for this year,” he said. “The best thing that I can see is the light at the end of the tunnel is a completely different animal — starting from scratch again next year with a new car and new rules and everything else.

“Hopefully, we can be a lot better to the punch line at the beginning of the year than we were and not have to play catch up all season long like we’ve been.”

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.”