LeBron James’ agent involved in Darrell Wallace Jr.’s hunt for sponsorship

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Darrell Wallace Jr.’s path to a new ride in NASCAR has led to an indirect intersection with NBA superstar LeBron James.

During its sponsorship hunt for Wallace, Roush Fenway Racing president Steve Newmark said the team set up a meeting for the driver with Maverick Carter, the agent who oversees much of James’ business empire.

Carter and James are childhood friends who co-founded LRMR, a sports and brand management company based in Akron, Ohio. LRMR, which started  in 2006 and also represents Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, has a business partnership with Fenway Sports Management, which falls under the Fenway Sports Group umbrella that also includes Roush Fenway Racing.

“The interest is pretty high (in Wallace), and we’ve worked closely with Fenway Sports Group,” Newmark said. “We’ve had him connected to (Carter) because LeBron is under the Fenway umbrella. We think there’s a lot of creative opportunities to do some really crossover promotions between sports with Bubba.

“So (with) LeBron and Johnny Manziel, John Henry has kind of created a big empire up there, obviously with Liverpool, NESN and Roush. There’s also a sports marketing arm that includes a lot of dynamic personalities. That gets us excited because we’re working with them to do things with our drivers as well.”

Wallace told MotorsportsTalk that he briefly talked with Carter recently.

We’re trying to get some things rolling there,” he said. “That’s a huge company (Fenway Sports Group). He knows that organization well. It could open a lot of doors. That’s really cool to know you have connections to LeBron and other key partners there. You have to go make the best of it.”

With his Oct. 26, 2013 win in the Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville Speedway, Wallace became the first African-American to win a NASCAR national series race in nearly 50 years (Wendell Scott, who will be inducted Friday into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, was the last at Jacksonville, Fla., on Dec. 1, 1963).

Wallace, 21, notched four victories in a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing last season and finished third in points, but a lack of sponsorship left him without a ride. He moved to Roush last November and is expected to run a Ford full time in the 2015 XFINITY Series.

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.”