NASCAR VP: 2015 Sprint Cup engine package to be revealed before All-Star Race

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NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations has said that a formal announcement on engine changes for the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season will come before next month’s Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Today at a sponsor summit for Iowa Speedway (which had NASCAR become its new owner last fall), Steve O’Donnell said that the final overall racing package for 2015 would also see changes involving downforce, aerodynamics, and tires.

This comes weeks after NASCAR CEO Brian France said in a SiriusXM NASCAR Radio interview that significant changes, including a likely reduction in horsepower, would be made in the near-future.

In additional comments to The Des Moines Register, O’Donnell said that teams have already been notified of where NASCAR was going with the changes and that the process of finalizing the 2015 engine package was underway.

O’Donnell wouldn’t divulge exact details of the package, but did perhaps show a glimpse of how drivers would have to adapt to it.

“If you combine the aero package with that [reduction of] horsepower [and] allow some aero changes with the engines going into the corner, drivers have to get off the gas and they’re able to maneuver around a little bit more,” O’Donnell said according to the Register’s Chad Leistikow.

“Combine that with Goodyear and a little softer tire, now you’re able to move around a little bit more.”

And while the engine has been the most talked-about aspect of this new package, O’Donnell also emphasized the importance of the tires, calling them “a big part of this.”

As you’d figure by now, the final goal is to boost the product on the 1.5-mile ovals, which make up the majority of the Sprint Cup schedule.

NASCAR rolled out a new rules package on the Generation 6 cars for this season, and while O’Donnell believes it’s helped the show on the 1.5-milers, he also noted that there’s still work to do.

“Brian’s talked about more and more lead changes,” O’Donnell said. “That’s the end goal.”

While the Cup Series has only visited two 1.5-mile ovals so far this year (Las Vegas and Texas), the first eight races have seen an increase in several averages compared to last year, such as number of leaders per race, green flag passes, and, yes, lead changes.

IndyCar star Scott Dixon to test skills on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Scott Dixon will be the latest IndyCar driver to enter the realm of reality TV when he auditions in Indianapolis next week for “American Ninja Warrior.”

The four-time IndyCar champion, nicknamed “The Iceman,” thought it sounded fun when he was approached with the idea of trying out. As the competition has drawn near, Dixon is wondering what he got himself into.

“I feel a lot of pressure on this one,” Dixon told The Associated Press before heading to this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. “When it got to be about a month away, I figured I should start training for it, and it’s pretty hard stuff.”

IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan all auditioned for the show, which follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in qualifying rounds across the country. None of IndyCar’s contestants advanced out of the first round and neither did NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Dixon’s appearance comes about the same time the Game Show Network has Sebastien Bourdais as a guest host for “Daily Draw” for the entire week leading into the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most recently, Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly teamed to finish fourth on “The Amazing Race,” and James Hinchcliffe was a runner-up last year on “Dancing With The Stars.” Castroneves is a former “DWTS” winner.

Dixon, the 2008 winner of the Indianapolis 500 who ranks fourth on IndyCar’s all-time wins list, is accustomed to success. But the New Zealander not so sure he’s going to become the next great ninja. Most of his fitness work focuses on endurance training, and preparing for the obstacle course has taken Dixon out of his element.

“It’s not my wheelhouse,” he said. “This is agility kind of stuff and I’m looking forward to the process. I’m not looking forward so much to the failure, because it’s going to happen at some point, so I guess I just have to make the most of it and enjoy the experience.”

Dixon was famously robbed at gunpoint in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell last year hours after he won the pole for the Indy 500. Asked if his ninja training will have him better prepared should that happen again, he did not think so.

“I suppose if I run away it would help,” Dixon said. “But I don’t exactly have a ninja toolkit to get me through that situation.”