NASCAR Notes: Kyle Busch Motorsports lays out Truck plans for 2014

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Sprint Cup star Kyle Busch may have had to shut down his Nationwide Series operation, but his Camping World Truck Series side is still raring to go for 2014.

While Busch has already said that he and 17-year-old Erik Jones would split time in the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra that won last year’s CWTS owner’s championship, the exact details of that hadn’t been revealed until very recently.

Jones, who became the youngest winner in CWTS history last fall at Phoenix International Raceway, will drive a 12-race schedule this year in the No. 51 that begins with the March 29 event at Martinsville Speedway.

That victory was part of Jones’ tremendous 2013 season, which also saw him take two of the top late model races in the country – the Winchester 400 at Indiana’s Winchester Speedway and the Snowball Derby at Florida’s Five Flags Speedway. He also earned his first career win in the ARCA series last August (Berlin, Mich.).

“I’m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the No. 51 Tundra and representing Toyota and [sponsor] ToyotaCare,” Jones said in a team release.

“I really learned a lot last year from Kyle and everyone at KBM. I felt like each time out we all grew as a team and at the end of the season I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream by winning in one of NASCAR’s top three divisions. Going into this season, I feel like we have a great chance to get back to victory lane and go out and defend our Owner’s Championship.”

As for Busch, he will be in the No. 51 for 10 races, including the season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday night, Feb. 21.

“Rowdy” earned five CWTS wins in 11 starts last year, including the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway that enabled the No. 51 to take the CWTS owner’s title on a tie-breaker over Matt Crafton’s No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota.

Darrell Wallace Jr. is already confirmed to drive KBM’s sister truck, the No. 54 Toyota Tundra.

More sponsor news has come in from Front Row Motorsports, which will welcome back transportation company CSX for a four-race swing as primary sponsor on David Ragan’s No. 34 Ford Fusion in Sprint Cup.

CSX will enjoy primary status on the No. 34 at the Daytona 500, Darlington, the August race at Michigan, and the September race at Richmond. The company will also be what the team calls a “major associate” sponsor at Pocono in August and Charlotte in October.

Ragan won last year’s spring race at Talladega Superspeedway with primary sponsorship from FarmRich Foods. They too will be back with the No. 34 this season, serving as its primary sponsor for the Phoenix race on March 2.

Plans for Alonso sports car debut in Rolex 24 gathering speed

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Plans for McLaren Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso to appear in next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona are gathering speed as the two-time World Champion angles for a drive at Le Mans in 2018.

Alonso announced on Thursday he had signed a new, multi-year deal to remain with McLaren in F1, but has left the door open to continue his pursuit of the Triple Crown of Motorsport and become just the second driver in history to complete it.

Alonso has won the Monaco Grand Prix twice and made his Indianapolis 500 debut this year, retiring with an engine issue, and has made no secret of his ambition to race at Le Mans one day.

With no date clashes, the possibility exists for Alonso to race at Le Mans in 2018, potentially with Toyota in the LMP1 class following McLaren’s split with Honda.

However, Alonso could make his 24-hour race debut five months earlier, with reports emerging on Thursday that he could be in line to appear in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

First reported by Sportscar365, Alonso could be set to race for McLaren executive director Zak Brown’s team, United Autosports, at Daytona in January, with no clashes existing with his F1 commitments.

Alonso remained coy when asked about the chances of him appearing at Daytona, but admitted additional preparation for a possible Le Mans appearance would be of interest.

“For the Indy 500 it was a nice experience, I felt very competitive but it was a big challenge that I took from zero, from no testing, not any similar race before it,” Alonso said, as quoted by Reuters.

“If I want to prepare Le Mans, maybe there are other possibilities to prepare Le Mans a little bit better than I prepared the Indy 500.”

He added more about his other race program in Thursday’s pre-race Paddock Pass episode, speaking to NBCSN. “To be the best driver in the world you have to win in different series at different times. It’s possible I can compete in different races next year,” he said.

Brown said he would be happy to field Alonso at Daytona, and confirmed their pair had already loosely discussed it.

“If Fernando wants to do Daytona and we have a seat available, we would put his name on it happily,” Brown said.

“We’ve started joking around about it, and we saw where jokes got us last time,” he added, referencing the eventual entry to the Indy 500.

United Autosports will field two JS P217 cars at Daytona in January, and has already confirmed ex-F1 racer Paul di Resta, McLaren junior Lando Norris, American endurance racer Will Owen and Danish youngster Philip Hanson in seats.

McLaren reserve and 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button had been linked with a drive for United Autosports at Daytona, but Brown confirmed to Sportscar365 this was no longer an option.

“Jenson won’t be driving for us. I don’t know what he’s going to be doing,” Brown said.

“I thought he was going to be in the Penske car. Not sure what happened there.”