Not much time for Toyota teams to try 2015 Camry before testing ban starts

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Toyota will become the first of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ three manufacturers to update its Generation-6 machine next year with the 2015 Camry.

But something else is coming even sooner: A NASCAR ban on private team testing that begins following next month’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

During today’s unveiling of the new Camry at Charlotte Motor Speedway, TRD vice president of chassis development Andy Graves said that the car would hit the track at some point before the teams come to Daytona in February 2015 for Speedweeks.

Thanks to the ban, that leaves a little more than one month for Toyota teams Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing to sample the new car.

But with JGR still having all three of its drivers – Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Matt Kenseth – in this year’s Chase, it would seem that they’ll want to devote their energy toward the championship for as long as they’re in it.

“Our whole focus is on right now with where we are with the Chase and everything,” team owner Joe Gibbs said today according to Bob Pockrass of the Sporting News. “I can’t see us being able to do much.”

Depending on how long Busch, Hamlin, and Kenseth can last in the post-season, MWR may wind up handling a good portion of the 2015 Camry’s testing in the weeks ahead.

Neither of MWR’s drivers, Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers, are involved in the Chase.

“We’ll be at Nashville and things like that,” Bowyer said to Pockrass. “We have [Goodyear test at] Auto Club Speedway, we have a Phoenix test coming up. We’ve got opportunities to get in this race car.”

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).

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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.”