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Spring Creek Preview: Surging challengers chase down the leaders

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As the temperatures heat up across the South, the Lucas Oil Promo Motocross heads to Millville, Minn. at Spring Creek MX Park for Round 8 of the championship.

Both the 450 and 250 class have surging second-place riders who still believe they can win this year’s championship.

Marvin Musquin is determined to make the championship interesting after standing on the podium in three consecutive races. He won back to back at WW Ranch and Southwick. Last week, a terrible start to Moto 1 left him pinned under his bike on Lap 1, but rebounded to win Moto 2 and finish third overall.

While Musquin still mathematically controls his fate, Eli Tomac refuses to make it easy. Despite the occasional bad moto, Tomac has stood on the overall podium in every single race this year with wins at Pala, High Point and last week at RedBud.

The key to success will be in finding the perfect compromise between the ever shifting sand whoops and the hard-packed up and downhill sessions. Since the sand whoops often refuse to reveal their personality until Moto 1 is in the books, the overall will be in question until late in the day regardless of who dominates Race 1.

Likewise in the 250 class, second-place Dylan Ferrandis is making a charge on Adam Cianciarulo.

With three consecutive podium finishes, he was second overall at WW Ranch and Southwick. Last week he swept RedBud’s two motos while Cianciarulo stumbled to a fifth-place finish in Moto 1. The deficit currently sits at 25 points, but with 10 motos of action lying ahead of the riders, that can change quickly.

Chase Sexton will return to action this week after missing the last three motos and struggling with health issues for the last three rounds. With the championship out of reach, the 2019 250 East Supercross champion has nothing but winning on his mind.

MORE: Marvin Musquin interview

Schedule:

Qualifiers: 11:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold
Race: Live, 2 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, Moto 2 at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, (Moto 2, re-air at 1 a.m. on NBC).

July 6 – 2019; Redbud

450: Eli Tomac (1-2) won over Jason Anderson (2-4) and Marvin Musquin (7-1)
250: Dylan Ferrandis (1-1) won over Adam Cianciarulo (5-2) and Justin Cooper (3-6)

July 21 – 2018; Spring Creek 

450: Eli Tomac (1-1) won over Ken Roczen (2-3) and Marvin Musquin (4-2)
250: Aaron Plessinger (1-1) won over Justin Cooper (4-3) and Alex Martin (7-2)

Overall Wins

450:
[3] Eli Tomac (Pala, High Point, RedBud)
[2] Ken Roczen (Hangtown, Thunder Valley)
[2] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch, Southwick)

250:
[5] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown, Pala, Thunder Valley, High Point, Southwick)
[1] Justin Cooper (WW Ranch)
[1] Dylan Ferrandis (RedBud)

Moto Wins

450:
[6] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & II, Thunder Valley II, WW Ranch I, RedBud I)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[3] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch I, Southwick I, RedBud II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)
[1] Zach Osborne (Southwick II)

250:
[5] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley II, High Point II, Southwick I)
[4] Dylan Ferrandis (WW Ranch II, Southwick II, RedBud I & II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[1] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I)
[1] Chase Sexton (WW Ranch I)

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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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.”