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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As expected, FIA denies granting Colton Herta a Super License to race in F1

Colton Herta Super License
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The governing body for Formula One on Friday said IndyCar star Colton Herta will not be granted the Super License that the American needs to join the F1 grid next season.

“The FIA confirms that an enquiry was made via the appropriate channels that led to the FIA confirming that the driver Colton Herta does not have the required number of points to be granted an FIA Super Licence,” the FIA said in a statement.

The FIA decision was not a surprise.

Red Bull was interested in the 22-year-old Californian and considering giving Herta a seat at AlphaTauri, its junior team. AlphaTauri has already said that Pierre Gasly will return next season and Yuki Tsunoda received a contract extension earlier this week.

However, AlphaTauri has acknowledged it would release Gasly, who is apparently wanted at Alpine, but only if it had a compelling driver such as Herta to put in the car. F1 has not had an American on the grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015, but Herta did not particularly want the FIA to make an exception to the licensing system to get him a seat.

At issue is how the FIA rates IndyCar, a series it does not govern. The points it awards to IndyCar drivers rank somewhere between F2 and F3, the two junior feeder series into F1.

IndyCar drivers have criticized the system in defense of Herta and the intense, close racing of their own highly competitive series. Herta has won seven IndyCar races, is the youngest winner in series history and has four starts in the Indianapolis 500. He qualified on the front row in 2021 and finished a career-best eighth in 2020.

Rossi, who has spent the last four seasons as Herta’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, lashed out this week because “I’m so sick and tired of this back and forth” regarding the licensing.

“The whole premise of it was to keep people from buying their way into F1 and allowing talent to be the motivating factor,” Rossi wrote on social media. “That’s great. We all agree Colton has the talent and capability to be in F1. That’s also great and he should get that opportunity if it’s offered to him. Period.

“Motorsport still remains as the most high profile sport in the world where money can outweigh talent. What is disappointing and in my opinion, the fundamental problem, is that the sporting element so often took a backseat to the business side that here had to be a method put in place in order for certain teams to stop taking drivers solely based on their financial backing.”

Rossi added those decisions “whether out of greed or necessity, is what cost Colton the opportunity to make the decision for himself as to if he wanted to alter career paths and race in F1. Not points on a license.”

The system favors drivers who compete in FIA-sanctioned series. For example, Linus Lundqvist earned his Super License by winning the Indy Lights championship.

Lundqvist’s required points come via the 15 he earned for the Lights title, 10 points for finishing third in Lights last year and his 2020 victory in the FIA-governed Formula Regional Americas Championship, which earned him 18 points.

That gave the 23-year-old Swede a total of 43 points, three more than needed for the license.

Herta, meanwhile, ended the IndyCar season with 32 points. He can still earn a Super License by picking up one point for any free practice sessions he runs this year; McLaren holds his F1 rights and could put him in a car. Herta could also potentially run in an FIA-sanctioned winter series to pick up some points.

Michael Andretti, who has petitioned the FIA to expand its grid to add two cars for him to launch a team, said he never bothered to explore potential replacements for Herta on the IndyCar team because he was confident the Super License request would be rejected.

Andretti has been met by severe resistance from existing F1 teams and even F1 itself in his hope to add an 11th team. Andretti could still get on the grid by purchasing an existing team and he’d like to build his program around Herta, who is under contract in IndyCar to Andretti through 2023.