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Will keeps the Power on at Detroit, regains points lead

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The Will Power parade continued in Race 2 of Sunday’s Chevrolet Dual In Detroit Grand Prix.

In the last 23 days, including Sunday, Power has taken part in four races – nearly one-fourth of the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.

In that span, he’s earned two wins (the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the 102nd Indianapolis 500), a runner-up finish (Sunday) and a seventh-place showing (Saturday’s race at Detroit).

And there’s still one more race to go in six days: Saturday night’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

To say Power is the hottest driver going on the circuit in quite a while is an understatement. What’s more, by finishing second Sunday, Power is back atop the IndyCar standings.

Power has 309 points, while Saturday’s Detroit winner, Scott Dixon, is a close second with 304 points. Alexander Rossi, who climbed back into first after Saturday’s race, fell back to third after Sunday’s race, with 298 points.

“I feel like this was about as good as we could get, given how fast (Sunday’s race winner Ryan) Hunter-Reay was,” Power said. “There was just no way anyone was going to beat him.

“We just seemed to struggle a little bit on full tanks and cold tires, but I’m very happy with the result. You know, I feel like with what we had, that’s the most that we could have got out of that race, so very happy.”

In the four-race stretch just completed, Power has gone from road course to speedway to road course two more times and then heads back to another speedway at Texas.

“It’s just amazing how good you’ve got to be at so many different disciplines because no oval is the same, either,” Power said. “So yeah, Texas is going to be a totally different animal this year with the downforce level (on the new Indy car).

“Who knows how it’ll play out. But yeah, you’ve got to just be good changing and adapting very quickly, and that’s what IndyCar is all about. To be a champion, you’ve got to master every single discipline, which there’s many.”

Speaking of championship, that’s next on Power’s agenda – well, including a few more race wins too, the 2014 champ hopes.

“After the 500, it’s just 100 percent focus on a championship,” Power said. “Well, it is all year, honestly.

“(It was a) pretty rough start to the year, a lot of little mistakes by me, but overall we’re in a very good position. Qualified out of the top three once all year.

“Yeah, we just focus forward, very determined. I felt like I had so many close seconds in my career, so I really want to get another championship.”

But first, before another championship, before more potential wins and before Saturday’s race at Texas, Power has an even higher priority: sleep.

Power has been on the road for nearly a month. While other drivers had a few days’ respite before going to Detroit, such was not the case with Power.

After winning the Indy 500, he spent a full day doing the TV rounds in New York, flew to Dallas to visit the NFL’s Cowboys training camp in Frisco, Texas, and then onto the back-to-back races in Motor City.

You think he’s a bit tired? You’d be right. In fact, he can’t wait to get back into his own bed in his suburban Charlotte, North Carolina home, before he flies back down to Dallas-Fort Worth for Saturday’s race.

“I’m looking forward to going home,” Power said. “I haven’t been home in a month, so just to have like three mornings where I can sleep in a bit will be pretty cool, and be home, spend some time with my little boy and my wife.

“Yeah, it’s been the most hectic time of the year, and yeah, we look forward to the week off after Texas. I think that’ll be very welcome by everyone in the paddock.”

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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.”