Martin wins USF2000 title. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Anthony Martin claims 2016 USF2000 crown

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MONTEREY, Calif. – Anthony Martin has secured the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda championship, and has become the sixth different driver in succession for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing to claim the series title.

The 21-year-old Australian won seven races this season and finished second today in the 16th and final round of 2016 to secure the title and the Mazda advancement scholarship of $363,000 that goes with it to advance to the next level on the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.

Martin joins the previous five champions for Cape, who are Nico Jamin (2015), Florian Latorre (2014), Scott Hargrove (2013), Matthew Brabham (2012) and Petri Suvanto (2011).

Martin opened the day with an 18-point lead over teammate Parker Thompson and ended it with an 21-point margin, unofficially (394-373), to secure the crown. Martin won seven races to Thompson’s four this season.

Up front, Victor Franzoni won his third race of the season and second this weekend, at the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Monterey Powered by Mazda, to complete a weekend sweep for ArmsUp Motorsports.

Franzoni got out to a 2.2865-second lead on the opening lap of the race while the Cape twins battled behind them, and set sail from there to a final winning margin of 10.1026  seconds.

Thompson got Martin for second off the line, before Martin made an ambitious, determined move by Thompson to the inside at Rainey Corner, Turn 9, to get him back for second, where he stayed.

The order stabilized right there with Franzoni drawing away, Martin holding station in second and Thompson in third. Thompson stayed close to Martin’s rear wing but unlike on Saturday, he was unable to make it past his teammate for position.

As on Saturday, Martin’s countrymen Jordan Lloyd and Luke Gabin completed the top five, albeit in a different order. Lloyd gained a spot from yesterday to today to end fourth for Pabst Racing, while Gabin brought his JAY Motorsports car home in fifth. Nikita Lastochkin was sixth in the third Cape car.

Of note, Robert Megennis made a late-race pass of Yufeng Luo for seventh, a spin dropped Pabst’s Garth Rickards back in the field, and John Cummiskey Racing’s Michael Scott finished his first series race.

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.”