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PWC: WeatherTech Porsche to enter final two races

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The WeatherTech-backed Alex Job Racing Porsches will take up residence in Pirelli World Challenge for that series’ final two races of the year, at Sonoma Raceway Sept. 16-18 and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Oct. 7-9.

This decision follows the move to withdraw from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for that series’ final three weekends at VIR, Circuit of The Americas and Road Atlanta, citing a Balance of Performance (BoP) disagreement. WeatherTech remains committed as that series’ entitlement sponsor.

The full release is below:

Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.) and Gunnar Jeannette (Salt Lake City, Utah) will drive WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R’s in the final two rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge Series (PWC) to run at Sonoma Raceway, September 16-18 and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, October 7-9.

MacNeil will drive the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche in the PWC GTA Class. Jeannette will drive the No. 97 WeatherTech Racing Porsche in the GT category. In addition to running the three remaining 50-minute sprint races, two at Sonoma and one at Laguna Seca, the duo will share a seat for the PWC SprintX race at Laguna Seca as well.

“I’m excited to run PWC for the last two races at Sonoma and Laguna Seca,” MacNeil said. “I have done a lot of races with SCCA, but never on the SCCA Pro Racing side. It will be a different format with the race being a sprint format instead of the endurance length I am used to doing. I have only been to Sonoma once before, back in 2011 running Ferrari Challenge, but I was on the podium both races. We are going to try hard to get back up there this time with a Porsche! The GTA class has been close all year. Some of my main competition will be an old teammate Mike Schein. We used to race Porsche Cup back in 2011 and we had some close races together. It should be fun to get back out there with him and see how we fair.”

Jeannette is ready to go sprint racing.

“I’m excited to be doing the next PWC round at Sonoma,” Jeannette said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve done a proper single driver Pro race. I did the duel sprint race event that IMSA did back in 2014, but this is a different story. My only World Challenge start was in an Audi at Sebring in 2004, so it’s been a little bit! The sprint format will obviously be quite different than sharing the car with Cooper. It will be good to still work together to get both of our cars set-up as best as possible for the races. We’ll be playing catch up to all the other teams that have been running all year, so having two cars will be very helpful. The Porsches have shown to be competitive throughout the year and Sonoma should be a decent track for us.”

Jeannette is returning to Sonoma after 12 years. “I think the last time I raced at Sonoma was all the way back in 2004 in the ALMS (American Le Mans Series) days,” he continued. “I remember doing the morning warmup and coming around off the drag strip to see Dale Jr’s Corvette fully ablaze and him scrambling out of the car while it was still rolling. For a split second I thought of stopping to help, but since he was almost out already I continued on. Had I stopped to help I probably would’ve made the national news! Hopefully this year no one will have a repeat of that kind of incident.”

Team owner, Alex Job, is in preparation.

“We have two cars that are race ready and we wanted to get in a couple of more races before the leaves turn colors,” team owner, Alex Job said. “Cooper was considering running the Laguna Seca event for a while and it just made sense for us to add the Sonoma race and get Gunnar involved as well. The SprintX event at Laguna Seca will be something a little different, but a format we are used to doing with a pit stop and two drivers. We will get the cars out on Pirelli tires before we make the trip across the country next week.”

The Pirelli World Challenge Series Cadillac Grand Prix at Sonoma Raceway will run September 16-18.

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.”