Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson to ‘vacation’ by racing in Chicagoland Nationwide event

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Some Sprint Cup drivers are either racing fanatics – or they’re in dire need of a social life.

Take Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson, for example.

Instead of relaxing, vacationing or just taking some well-deserved R&R time off during the last off-weekend on the Sprint Cup schedule – before 17 straight races to conclude the season – Larson and Kahne are, what else, going racing this weekend.

Both drivers will compete in Saturday night’s Nationwide Series event at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. They’re the only Cup regulars who will be on-track.

Other Cup regulars who also race frequently on the NNS circuit are surprising no-shows:

  • Matt Kenseth hails from Cambridge, Wisconsin, about three hours away. But he won’t be at CLS.
  • Kyle Busch’s wife Samantha grew up – and her family still lives there – in Saint John, Indiana, about 40 miles from CLS. But Kyle won’t be there, either. Even though he’s competed in 14 of the first 17 NNS races this season, Busch will also not be in Joliet. He’s on vacation.
  • Others that will be conspicuous by their absence include Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick.

Why Kahne and Larson will race Saturday in the standalone event is understandable. Both are fighting to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

While this is not a Cup race, if both drivers make the Chase, they should be able to garner some data about the 1.5-mile suburban Chicago track from racing Saturday night that they can utilize in the Chase opener, also at CLS.

“What else am I going to do?” Kahne told SportingNews.com when asked why he was racing at Chicagoland. “I thought about a vacation but I could still take one the week leading into Chicago … which I’m not going to. I’m going to stay (home before going to Chicago).”

Kahne will not be racing for his primary team, Hendrick Motorsports. Rather, he’ll drive in Saturday’s race for Dale Earnhardt Jr.-owned JR Motorsports, in his still-familiar No. 5 car.

This will be Kahne’s third start for JRM this season – and at this point, likely his last for 2014. While he finished 22nd at Talladega in early May, he won the NNS race two weeks ago at Daytona. It was the third win for the JRM No. 5 this season (other two wins came with Kevin Harvick behind the wheel).

“I don’t have a lot of opportunities to run for JRM this year, so when the Chicagoland race became available, I jumped on it,” Kahne said. “I have a blast driving their cars, so off-weekend or not, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”

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NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

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