NASCAR: K&N East champ Ben Rhodes gets 10 XFINITY races for JR Motorsports in ’15

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One of NASCAR’s top young prospects will be teaming up with XFINITY Series champions JR Motorsports in 2015.

Ben Rhodes, who won the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title, has been signed to drive JRM’s No. 88 Chevrolet in 10 XFINITY events next season with backing from commercial/industrial mechanical services provider Alpha Energy Solutions.

With the announcement, Rhodes will be part of a stellar lineup for the No. 88 car that includes team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., new Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick, and Kasey Kahne in select events. The No. 88 car will contest the entire 33-race XFINITY Series schedule in 2015.

As for Rhodes, his 10-race schedule for JRM will feature appearances in: Both events at Iowa (May 17 and Aug. 1), Chicagoland (June 20), New Hampshire (July 18), Watkins Glen (Aug. 8), Mid-Ohio (Aug. 15), Road America (Aug. 29), Kentucky (Sept. 26), Dover (Oct. 3), and the season finale at Homestead-Miami (Nov. 21).

Dave Elenz, a former engineer for both Dale Jr. and Jimmie Johnson at Hendrick Motorsports, will serve as the No. 88 team’s crew chief.

“I’m thrilled to be joining one of the top teams in NASCAR for the 2015 season,” Rhodes said in a team release. “It’s been my goal to compete in NASCAR’s top tiers, and this is a tremendous opportunity with JR Motorsports and Alpha Energy Solutions to race in the XFINITY Series.

“I couldn’t think of a better group of people to surround myself with to continue my growth in the sport.  I am looking forward to working with crew chief Dave Elenz, driving the No. 88 Chevrolet with Dale Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne, as well as sharing the track with my teammates Chase Elliott and Regan Smith.”

Rhodes, a native of Louisville, Kentucky and a member of the NASCAR Next development class, captured this year’s K&N East crown as a rookie with five victories – four of which came in succession. He clinched in the penultimate race of the season with a fourth at Greenville-Pickens Speedway.

Additionally, Rhodes ran in four Camping World Truck Series events this year, and picked up one Top-5 and three Top-10s. His best Truck finish was a fifth in November at Phoenix.

“Ben is one of the rising talents in NASCAR,” JR Motorsports general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller said in her own thoughts. “As a company, JRM takes pride in cultivating young drivers, and together with Alpha Energy Solutions, we’re thrilled to give Ben a platform to further develop his skills at the next level. I’m excited to see what this coming year will bring for him and the 88 team.”

Alex Marquez wins first MotoGP #StayAtHomeGP Virtual Race

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Alex Marquez of Spain won the inaugural MotoGP #StayAtHomeGP Virtual Race as the world’s premier bike racing series followed other motorsports into online racing.

The #StayAtHomeGP, which was streamed Sunday on several platforms including the Motorsports on NBC YouTube channel, featured a field of 10 riders competing on their console gaming systems at home.

Francesco Bagnaia was the runner-up, and Maverick Vinales rounded out the podium.

INDYCAR iRACING: Sage Karam wins Watkins Glen opener

Defending MotoGP premier series champion Marc Marquez, the older brother of the rookie race winner and his teammate at Repsol Honda Team, finished fifth.

Here’s a recap of the race from the MotoGP site.

The premier class of MotoGP has yet to hit the track this season as its opener was canceled and the next three races were postponed, including the Grand Prix of the Americas being moved from April 5 to Nov. 15.

Several other racing series have tried online racing in recent weeks.

IMSA held a “SuperSaturday at Sebring” March 21 in place of the postponed Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of SebringNASCAR started its Pro Invitational Series last Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway and will continue Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. IndyCar kicked off its six-race IndyCar iRacing Challenge with a Saturday race at Watkins Glen International that was won by Sage Karam.