Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon

NASCAR releases 2014 Nationwide Series schedule

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In 2014, NASCAR’s No. 2 national series, the Nationwide Series, will take on a 33-race schedule for the third consecutive season.

The 2014 docket will feature six stand-alone weekends (two at Iowa Speedway, Chicagoland, Kentucky, Road America and Mid-Ohio) as well as three road course weekends (Road America, Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio). Three date shifts will take place from this year’s schedule:

  • Darlington will host its NNS race a month earlier (April 11) as part of its new NASCAR weekend in April 2014.
  • Iowa’s first stand-alone event, which had been in June, has been moved to mid-May (May 18).
  • Texas’ NNS race has been moved one week earlier to April 4, 2014.
  • Additionally, the Chicagoland stand-alone on July 19 will go back to a nighttime format for the first time since 2011.

Also, the series’ “Dash 4 Cash” bonus program for drivers and fans will also return for a sixth consecutive season. More details on the Dash 4 Cash will be revealed at a later date.

2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series Schedule

Date               Site
2/22                Daytona International Speedway
3/1                  Phoenix International Raceway
3/8                  Las Vegas Motor Speedway
3/15                Bristol Motor Speedway
3/22                Auto Club Speedway
4/4                  Texas Motor Speedway
4/11                Darlington Raceway
4/25                Richmond International Raceway
5/3                  Talladega Superspeedway
5/18                Iowa Speedway
5/24                Charlotte Motor Speedway
5/31                Dover International Speedway
6/14                Michigan International Speedway
6/21                Road America
6/27                Kentucky Speedway
7/4                  Daytona International Speedway
7/12                 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
7/19                 Chicagoland Speedway
7/26                 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
8/2                  Iowa Speedway
8/9                  Watkins Glen International
8/16                Mid-Ohio
8/22                Bristol Motor Speedway
8/30                Atlanta Motor Speedway
9/5                  Richmond International Raceway
9/13                Chicagoland Speedway
9/20                Kentucky Speedway
9/27                Dover International Speedway
10/4                Kansas Speedway
10/10              Charlotte Motor Speedway
11/1                Texas Motor Speedway
11/8                Phoenix International Raceway
11/15               Homestead-Miami Speedway

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Sage Karam

Sage Karam
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver. Ending in 20th was Sage Karam, who generated a lot of headlines despite missing a handful of races in his first full season in the big leagues.

Sage Karam, No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

  • 2014: 9th place at Indianapolis 500; several starts in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship
  • 2015: 20th place (12 starts), Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 3rd, 1 Podium, 2 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 12 Laps Led, 14.5 Avg. Start, 15.8 Avg. Finish

Few drivers generated as much ink as Karam did during what as an ultimately race-by-race rookie season that saw him active in 12 of 16 races. It was an overall rocky campaign that featured any combination of brilliance, controversy and heartache depending on the weekend.

Karam was on the back foot to begin with anyway with limited preseason testing, following a wrist injury sustained in a crash at Barber Motorsports Park. The fact he was out of a car for Long Beach and the Grand Prix of Indianapolis owed to financial reasons but also served as a wakeup call that he needed to improve off the back of several ragged races to open the season. The speed was there for the Indianapolis 500 but the result wasn’t, with a first-lap crash and the following debacle of a doubleheader weekend at Detroit a week later ultimately Karam’s nadir.

Luckily for the 20-year-old, he had Dario Franchitti as a tutor, mentor and coach, and a post-Detroit “come to Jesus” meeting might have been the biggest impetus for change. Karam then surged in the second half of the year – primarily on ovals – and worked his way into the headlines courtesy of his driving and take-no-prisoners aggressive approach, particularly with Ed Carpenter at Iowa. In a single sentence, he was worth the price of admission almost on his own while also putting himself in contention for series “black hat” status.

Karam was on track for what would have been a dream weekend at home in Pocono, leading with 20 laps to go, when he lost control and crashed out – the debris from the car ultimately striking Justin Wilson’s helmet. It was a tragic end to the race but it was no fault of Karam’s that what happened, happened.

For as much as the community is rallying around Wilson’s family, it needs to do the same for Karam. At 20, he’s a talented driver with a bright future ahead of him, who continued to mature over the course of the season. You just don’t want Pocono to be the race that affects him psychologically, and prevents him from fully realizing his undoubted potential.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Stefano Coletti

Stefano Coletti
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series driver-by-driver lineup. In 19th place and the second-ranked rookie this season, was KV Racing Technology’s Stefano Coletti.

Stefano Coletti, No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet

  • 2014: GP2
  • 2015: 19th Place, Best Finish 8th, Best Start 8th, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 18.9 Avg. Start, 18.6 Avg. Finish

Coletti struggled in his rookie season, which was a bit surprising after an impressive preseason testing period that helped him secure the second KV Racing Technology car alongside KVSH Racing lead driver Sebastien Bourdais.

The GP2 graduate produced early season excitement where he was a passing star, but that only seemed to deceive for the rest of the year. The only time he started ahead of Bourdais was at Iowa, when Bourdais crashed in qualifying.

Similar to other drivers KV has had in previous years Coletti was often hard on equipment, with a frequent number of either full-on accidents or less damaging spins, although not all were his fault. A trouble-free weekend for him rarely occurred, and eighth at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis marked his only top-10 result of the year.

It was a year that paled in comparison to Sebastian Saavedra’s difficult 2014, which paled in comparison to Simona de Silvestro in 2013, which… well you get the point. The lack of consistency for the team’s second car probably doesn’t help, but Coletti offered few moments of brilliance in a deep field where he needed to stand out.

Given the resources at his disposal, ending 78 points behind rookie-of-the-year Gabby Chaves seemed a fairly substantial margin. If he returns for 2016, he has a big jump to make.