Photo: Jason Zindroski/Red Bull GRC

Scott Speed completes Red Bull GRC title three-peat in L.A.

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Scott Speed has won his third consecutive Red Bull Global Rallycross championship for Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, at the Port of Los Angeles, on a day when teammate Tanner Foust forced the issue with a perfect day of his own to win the 12th and final round of the season, and capped off a three-race win streak to end the year.

Speed is the first three-time champion in Red Bull GRC history, breaking a tie between he and Foust on two.

“The whole week leading up to the race was thinking about the what if’s. My hat’s off. I have the best team out here. It’s a team effort; I’m probably the smallest part to do with this!” Speed told NBC’s Will Christien post-race.

Speed entered the weekend with a 30-point lead over Foust and executed a clean, major drama-free day through the preliminary races before the 10-lap Supercars final.

Foust won all three heat races before the semifinals. Speed ended second, third and fourth in the three heats, which were lower results than he might have expected. In the first heat, the third driver still mathematically eligible for the title, Steve Arpin, got eliminated.

In the semifinals, Foust won semifinal one, which brought the gap down to 14 points to Speed before the second semifinal. Speed won the second semifinal, rebounding from contact with Chris Atkinson’s Subaru off the start and then using the Joker to pass Patrik Sandell and Sebastian Eriksson in one fell swoop on the fourth of six laps. That brought the gap back up to 24 points going into the final (781-757), and with Foust needing to win and have Speed end ninth or lower to overcome the gap.

Cabot Bigham had the opportunity to play spoiler for Bryan Herta Rallysport, starting on the outside of Speed and Foust on the front row going into the final. Foust, Sandell and Bigham moved into the top three positions through the opening corners with Speed falling back to fourth.

Foust controlled the race from there en route to the flag over Speed, who used the Joker to pass Sandell for second on the final lap. He ended 19 points behind, unofficially, with Arpin in third.

With his 16th career win, Foust regained the lead in all-time GRC finals wins. “The key is qualifying, so the battle was getting that done. We snuck that from Scott. There was a glimmer of hope. We made it through the heats and actually had a chance to win if Scott was eighth or less. We were hungry for it! I thought he might get caught up a bit. I’m so happy for our team on the Rockstar and Andretti tent. We had a tough Atlantic City but won everything since. Hopefully we’ll carry some of that for next year to make it even faster and better,” Foust told Christien.

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.”