NASCAR: Bristol spring weekend shifting to April

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The first of NASCAR’s two annual visits to the Bristol Motor Speedway has been moved back a month.

BMS announced today that its spring NASCAR weekend, which features the Food City 500 for the Sprint Cup Series and a 300-mile Nationwide Series undercard, will go off on April 17-19, 2015.

“This is a great day in the history of Bristol Motor Speedway thanks to our passionate fans,” said Jerry Caldwell, BMS general manager and executive vice president, in a statement.

“[Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO and president] Bruton and Marcus Smith and NASCAR heard the relentless plea for a true spring race date. The fans can look forward to a 2015 landmark celebration April 17-19 in Thunder Valley.”

The Food City 500 has been held in March since the 2005 season, but weather conditions for the race have varied considerably.

This past March, Carl Edwards won after rain delayed the start for two hours and then delayed it again in mid-race for an additional three hours and change – causing it to end under the lights.

NASCAR.com notes that a spring date change for Bristol has been under consideration for some time, citing a Bristol (Tenn.) Herald Courier interview from last year in which Caldwell said that such a move would be “a game-changer for all of us.”

“I just remind [NASCAR officials] what we’re dealing with and what the race fans need,” added Caldwell in the interview.

Now, Caldwell and BMS have gotten their wish.

An IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Talladega? Drivers have discussed it

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If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is interested in an IndyCar iRacing event on an oval, he might like the latest idea being kicked around by NTT Series drivers.

“I personally would want to run at Talladega, but I don’t think that’s an option,” Arrow McLaren SP driver rookie Oliver Askew told NBCSports.com in a Friday interview about his simulation work for the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “IndyCar drivers have a group chat with iRacing, and someone had the idea of running at Talladega, and I thought it was brilliant.”

It actually would be a throwback of sorts as a USAC-sanctioned race with Indy cars at Talladega nearly happened 40 years ago.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will be running its second consecutive road course Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or streaming here).

Of the four remaining races in the six-race series, there’s a chance that three of them could be ovals: A Drivers’ Choice track April 11; a “Random Draw” April 18 and a non-IndyCar “Dream” track May 2 (the April 25 race will be at Circuit of the Americas).

ENTRY LIST: Who will be racing at Barber

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IndyCar drivers are voting on next week’s track, and the options include high-speed ovals such as Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan Speedway.

A multicar crash at Talladega last October. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talladega apparently isn’t on the list for next week, but surely it could be considered for a future race if it meant having Earnhardt in the field. The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is a six-time winner at Talladega, and the NASCAR on NBC analyst’s family is synonymous with the 2.66-mile oval where his late seven-time champion father won a record 10 times.

“I hope he can make that happen,” Askew said of racing against Earnhardt. “I hope IndyCar can grant his wish on that.”

The addition of Earnhardt would fit well with an IndyCar iRacing Challenge that already features champions from NASCAR (Jimmie Johnson) and Supercars (Scott McLaughlin).

Will Power would like to see more of that.

“I think that would be great if we can get big-name drivers from other series,” Power said. “Getting a couple guys from Europe would be cool.”