NASCAR: Brandon Jones to run for RCR part-time in 2015 XFINITY Series season

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17-year-old NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver Brandon Jones has secured a part-time seat for 2015 with Richard Childress Racing and its No. 33 NASCAR XFINITY Series program.

This year, Jones finished fourth in the K&N East standings on the strength of one win at Iowa Speedway, five Top-5s, and 11 Top-10 finishes.

He has also run select events in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (best finish of fourth at Dover in May) and the ARCA Racing Series, where he won twice at Winchester (Ind.) and Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

“This is a great opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to driving RCR cars with ECR Engines next year,” Jones said in a statement. “They are a multi-championship team in the XFINITY Series and I know I have a lot of work and learning ahead of me. I couldn’t think of a better team to race with than RCR.”

Team owner Richard Childress said in his own thoughts that he had been keeping tabs on Jones’ progress for several years and liked what he saw in him as both a driver and a person.

“Adding him to our developmental program and putting him in our No. 33 Chevrolet is a good move for us and his career,” Childress added. “I look forward to seeing his progression next year and welcome him to the RCR family.”

Like it has done this season with the No. 33, RCR said in the release that Jones would share the car in 2015 with other drivers to be named later. Jones will also continue to run limited Truck Series and ARCA schedules.

In 2014, RCR has called upon Cale Conley (11 starts); two of the their Sprint Cup regulars, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon (one start each); and defending Truck Series champion Matt Crafton (one start) to drive the No. 33. Menard won with the car back in June at Michigan International Speedway.

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.”