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

2 Comments

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.

April 9 in Motorsports History: Al Unser Jr. gets sixth Long Beach win

Leave a comment

The list of winners in the Grand Prix of Long Beach is a ‘who’s who’ of open-wheel racing.

Mario Andretti won at the famed street course four times. His son Michael won there twice.

Paul Tracy is also a four-time winner at the beach. Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sebastien Bourdais, and Alexander Rossi also have won at the famed course multiple times.

But there is only one “King of the Beach”: Al Unser Jr.

The winningest driver in the race’s history, Unser won at Long Beach four consecutive times from 1988-91. He won again in 1994 and entered the 1995 edition as the race’s defending champion and the defending CART champion as well.

Starting fourth, Unser made slight contact with Gil de Ferran when he passed the Brazilian on Lap 3. He then continued to move up to the front, taking the race lead from Teo Fabi on Lap 30.

Once he had the lead, Unser ran away from the field, winning by more than 23 seconds over Scott Pruett.

Unser’s victory was such a familiar scene that after the race, CART news manager John Procida began the winner’s news conference with the following statement: “Well, we have a very familiar face on the top rung of the podium. As we listed on the prerace press release, this seems to be the Al Unser Invitational.”

Indeed it was. Unser’s victory was his sixth at Long Beach, and the 28th of his career. overall. While it would be his last win there, Unser continued to race at Long Beach through 1998 before missing 1999 with a broken leg and moving to the Indy Racing Leauge in 2000.

In 2009, Unser was inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame, which honors significant contributors to the race and California motorsports community.

“It truly is just an honor to be mentioned with the names and the legends that have already been put into the sidewalk,” Unser said during the induction ceremony. “To have Brian (Redman, the inaugural winner of the race) and Parnelli (Jones) is really an honor and just to be in their company is very, very special.”

Also on this date:

1971: Jacques Villeneuve was born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canada. The second-generation driver was one of the best in open-wheel racing during the 1990s, winning the Indianapolis 500 and CART championship in ’95 and becoming a Formula One champion two years later.

1989: Rick Mears dominated CART’s Checker Autoworks 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, leading every lap from the pole and lapping the field.

2011: Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park, their sixth consecutive victory in Grand Am competition. Their lengthy win streak, which started on Aug. 7, 2010 at Watkins Glen, prompted Grand Am to offer a $25,000 bounty for any Daytona Prototype team that could beat the dominant duo. The Action Express trio of Joao Barbosa, J.C. France, and Terry Borcheller finally unseated Pruett and Rojas in the series’ next round at Virginia International Raceway.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994