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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SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.