NASCAR Notes: Blaney’s schedule; McClure for Daytona 500

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My MotorSportsTalk colleague Jerry Bonkowski will have more on Team Penske’s 2014 NASCAR announcements from Charlotte later today, but one of its pieces of news we’ll put here in this post.

Penske development driver Ryan Blaney will race up to 15 Nationwide Series events for the team, and will also make two Sprint Cup Series starts in the No. 12 SKF Ford. Blaney will race at Kansas in April and Talladega in October.

In other news…

Eric McClure will attempt to make the Daytona 500 with Front Row Motorsports, in the team’s No. 35 Hefty Ford.

McClure, who suffered a severe accident at Talladega in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race in 2012, previously attempted to qualify for the 2005 Daytona 500. He has three Sprint Cup Series starts, one apiece from 2004 through 2006.

The Nationwide Series veteran is also expected to return for a nearly full Nationwide schedule of 28 races, with 2000 series champion Jeff Green taking over in the other five.

McClure, 35, is expected to be one of several drivers in FRM’s No. 35, which ran full-time in 2013 with Josh Wise. The team’s two full-season efforts will be David Ragan (No. 34) and David Gilliland (No. 38), while the team hopes to find enough support for the No. 35 to run the majority of the races.

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.