Bubba Wallace wraps up Truck season with fourth win, Matt Crafton earns historic second straight title

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There were two winners in Friday’s Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. wound up with his fourth victory of the season, while Matt Crafton became the first driver to ever win back-to-back NCWTS championships, holding off his only remaining challenger for the crown, Ryan Blaney.

MORE: Matt Crafton becomes first back-to-back NASCAR Trucks champion

“This is definitely more emotional than Martinsville (his first NCWTS win last season),” Wallace said. “I told everybody we want it more than anybody else, let’s show it.

“I wanted that trophy on the stage, it’s a cool one, a unique one. I have all the unique ones on my shelf. I can’t thank these guys enough for all their hard work. Over two years, it’s been fun at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports).”

Wallace is expected to jump to the Xfinity Series and race for Joe Gibbs Racing next season.

“I’m not sure what the future brings for me, but this is one hell of a way to go out,” Wallace said. “… I came home with five wins (four this season) and a hell of a season.”

Crafton, who came into the race knowing he needed to only finish 21st or higher, ultimately clinched the title with a ninth-place finish.

Blaney, meanwhile, finished fifth in the race.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t come out of here with a win, but congrats to Bubba Wallace and Matt Crafton,” Blaney told Fox Sports 1 afterward. “It was great racing them all year. It was a lot of fun.”

Crafton won the championship with 21 points to spare over Blaney (and 34 points ahead of Wallace), who put up a valiant effort under challenging circumstances.

On Lap 73, the shifter in Blaney’s truck broke, all but ending his hopes of catching and passing Crafton for the championship.

“(A broken shifter) never happens,” Blaney said. “It was broken at the base. We never had anything like it all season.”

Ironically, using a pair of vise grips, Blaney remained competitive even with the shifter problem.

Pole-sitter Kyle Larson gave Wallace all he could handle, almost moving to the front on the final lap, but Wallace proved to be too much of an immovable object, leaving Larson to finish second.

Timothy Peters rallied in the late laps to finish third, followed by Kyle Busch and Blaney.

Sixth through 10th were Tyler Reddick, Ty Dillon (subbing for an ill Brendan Newberry), Joe Nemechek, Crafton and Johnny Sauter.

Ross Chastain finished 11th, followed by Daniel Hemric, Jeb Burton, Spencer Gallagher, German Quiroga, Mason Mitchell, Ben Kennedy, Bryan Silas, Tayler Malsam and Austin Hill.

Finishing 21st through 30th were Matt Tifft, Justin Jennings, Joey Coulter, Tyler Young, Kyle Martel, Todd Peck, Derek White, Ray Black Jr., Mason Mingus and Jordan Anderson.

Rounding out the remaining six spots were Wendell Chavous, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Scott Stenzel, Norm Benning, John Wes Townley and Caleb Roark.

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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.”