Blake Baggett had high hopes for Anaheim

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It has been a season of surprises. A week after finishing 12th in the AMA Monster Energy Supercross race season opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., Blake Baggett took advantage of a mid-race restart in Glendale Ariz. and won his first career 450 event.

On Race Day Live, available as part of the NBC Sports Gold subscription, Baggett stood with Daniel Blair and Jim Holley and shared his high hopes for his second attempt at Anaheim. He had ample reason to be excited because of how the race at Glendale unfolded.

“Last weekend, it was a bummer about Malcom (Stewart) going down, but it was basically two 12-minute Mains plus or minus,” Baggett said on Race Day Live, referencing the race stoppage for an injury midway through the race. “It was a ‘Double Crown’.”

The second Anaheim race was the first of three Triple Crown format races this year. Riders run three separate Main events with the average finish deciding the overall winner. The Mains in Anaheim II were each 12 minutes plus one lap.

Winning under the three-main format is not only about charging hard for shorter periods of time than is typical in a feature race, but also about managing one’s physiology.

“It wasn’t really the heartrate coming down, it was how are you going to keep your heartrate up so that is wasn’t a few laps to get going again. … you already knew the lines and somebody was going to go right away so as soon as you crested that turn, you needed to pop that rhythm lane right away.”

Baggett never got a chance to bring his high hopes to fruition. He lost two laps in the first Main and finished 21st, which forced him to play catchup for the rest of the event.

And while this has been a season of surprises, it has also been a seesaw event for several riders. After running such strong race at Glendale, Baggett struggled through the three Mains finishing with a best result of 10th and an overall of 15th. His average finish of 8.75 is ninth best among fulltime riders.

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.”