RCR names two female drivers to development program, including daughter of Wally Dallenbach Jr.

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Richard Childress is known as an innovator and a team owner who likes to give breaks, especially to young drivers.

Childress accomplished both Wednesday when it was announced that two female drivers have been named to RCR’s driver development program.

Kate Dallenbach and Ahnna Parkhurst will race under the RCR and Team Dillon Racing banners in 2015.

Dallenbach, 17, is the daughter of driver-turned-broadcaster Wally Dallenbach Jr., and Robin McCall Dallenbach, a former driver herself with two starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Kate’s grandfather, Wally Dallenbach, was a longtime Indy car driver and chief steward for the former CART series.

Dallenbach will compete in dirt and asphalt races this season.

“Some RCR and TDR members and I have been watching Kate for several years and have been impressed with her driving ability,” Childress said in a release. “She is a quality driver in races and the results from her testing dirt Late Models have been very positive.

“I look forward to what the future holds for Kate, and we will do all we can to help her succeed.”

Dallenbach has been racing since she was 8 in quarter midgets and has progressed to win several local and regional championships in Texas, North Carolina and Florida.

This season, Dallenbach will compete in 20 races for Lee Faulk Racing and 10 others on dirt for RCR/TDR at Boyd Speedway in Georgia.

“I am honored and looking forward to being a larger part of RCR’s Driver Development Program this year,” Dallenbach said. “As a driver, I’m looking forward to improving my racing skills and winning some dirt and asphalt races. I hope to start testing Trucks in the future, as well.”

Parkhurst, 14, is an Augusta, Ga., native entering her second season of competitive racing. She will race in the dirt Crate Late Models for RCR/TDR.

“Ahnna has an incredible natural talent and absorbs everything she can to become a better driver every time she races,” Childress said. “Everything I have seen and heard about her racing has been positive. She is going to learn and improve even more this year on the dirt tracks and I look forward to watching that progress.”

In 42 Mini Outlaws races in 2014, Parkhurst won 13 and finished runner-up 12 times at Millbridge (N.C.) Speedway. Her schedule is planned for 40 races, split between Boyd (Ga.) Speedway, Swainsboro (Ga.) Speedway and Modoc (S.C.) Speedway.

“I raced just about every other Wednesday night from March until November of last year,” Parkhurst said. “RCR and TDR said they are going to give me their best effort to be competitive and try and win races. It’s up to me to give them my best efforts in return.”

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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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.”