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Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: More than $6 million on the line

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With less than two weeks remain until the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season kicks off at Hangtown in Rancho Cordova, Calif., MX Sports Pro Racing has announced a record for prize money and contingency awards will be on the line during the 2019 season.

The sports’ six competing manufacturers (Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha) have laid out programs that, combined with a $1 million purse, will total more than $6 million in awards.

“The unwavering commitment from our manufacturers has helped the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship reach an all-time level of contingency support, which will only serve to benefit the hundreds of riders that will contest the Nationals this summer,” said Davey Coombs, President of MX Sports Pro Racing in a press release. “The (manufacturers) play a crucial role in elevating the global influence of American motocross, and Pro Motocross provides a platform for manufacturers to showcase their off-road endeavors.

“Our record sum is also a welcome indication of the overall health of the motorcycle industry.”

On May 18, Eli Tomac will look to start his campaign on the tough California dirt. It could not come at a better time. Ending the 2019 Supercross season with three victories in the last four rounds and six total wins, Tomac had as much momentum in the closing weeks as Supercross champion Cooper Webb.

In fact, over the course of the final seven rounds, Tomac and Webb had identical average finishes of 2.43 while Tomac edged his competitor in regard to wins at three to two.

In the 250 class, a vacant title and depth of new talent insures that a first time champion will be crowned at the end of a summer season that will include 12 venues.

As with the Supercross season, all of the race action can be viewed live with season passes at NBC Sports Gold, with race coverage hosted on the NBC family of Networks. 

2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Schedule

May 18: Hangtown Motocross Classic, Rancho Cordova, Calif.
May 25: Fox Raceway National, Pala, Calif.
June 1: Thunder Valley National, Lakewood, Colo.
June 15: High Point National, Mt. Morris, Pa.
June 22: Florida National, Jacksonville, Fla.
June 29: Southwick National, Southwick, Mass.
July 6: RedBud National, Buchanan, Mich.
July 20: Spring Creek National, Millville, Minn.
July 27: Washougal National, Washougal, Wash.
August 10: Unadilla National, New Berlin, N.Y.
August 17: Budds Creek National, Mechanicsville, Md.
August 24: Ironman National. Crawfordsville, Ind.

Tickets for all events are on-sale at ProMotocross.com.

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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.”