NASCAR: K&N Pro Series unveils new car for 2015

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Young drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series will have the opportunity to race a brand-new car starting next season.

The body, developed in partnership with Five Star Race Car Bodies, is made up of a composite laminate blend and has a modular design so teams can make easy installations and repairs to damaged panels.

It is expected to cut labor costs associated with body maintenance by 50 percent, and it will eventually serve as the only body approved for competition in the series by 2017 (steel bodies will be phased out following next season and the current one-piece composite body will be phased out following the 2016 season).

“The new K&N Pro Series body represents a major win for the teams, the fans, and the racing industry as a whole,” NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations Jim Cassidy said in a release following the car’s unveiling at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

“This will give our emerging talent the opportunity to gain more valuable, relevant racing experience, and our fans and industry partners will appreciate the car’s similarity in appearance to both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars and street models.”

The new body is 35 pounds lighter than the current steel bodies, but probably the biggest benefit to teams will be that aforementioned modular, bolt-together flange design. Instead of having to cut and weld new panels in the event of damage, teams can now simply bolt a new panel on.

“The way it bolts together, cars will be much friendlier to repair, either in tact or by reattaching panels,” Turner Motorsports K&N East director Mike Greci told the NASCAR Wire Service.

“The way the flanges work, they either butt up at a seam or overlap a seam. But there are no exposed bolts. Everything is inside.”

As for its performance, NASCAR Touring Series managing director Brad Moran said that he wasn’t sure if the new car would prove faster than the current one based on initial wind tunnel tests. However, he feels the more Cup-like look will be a hit.

“By elevating the quality of the car with a look that’s more up-to-date – more what you see on the street and with a look that’s almost identical to the Sprint Cup body that fans see racing on Sundays – I think it elevates the entire series,” he said.

The same Five Star composite body that will be used in K&N competition will also be available for ARCA teams starting next season. However, in ARCA, the body will be used exclusively for races on tracks one mile or smaller in length.

For more details on the new K&N car, check out this handy info-graphic.

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.”