NASCAR expands Sprint Unlimited field to include Chase drivers

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NASCAR’s Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway is about to get bigger.

New eligibility requirements announced today by NASCAR has allowed all 16 Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers to enter the non-points exhibition race, which takes place one week before the Daytona 500.

“The 2015 Sprint Unlimited has potential to be one of the most competitive ever,” NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said in a release.

“With more drivers eligible, the intensity level increases for our fans and competitors, making for a compelling start to the 2015 season.”

The field will also include 2014 Cup pole winners, former Sprint Unlimited race winners, and former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full-time in Cup in 2014.

Any remaining spots will be filled by drivers highest in 2014 Cup driver championship points who are not already eligible.

A minimum of 25 drivers are eligible to participate, including:

  • Kyle Busch (2014 pole winner)
  • Austin Dillon (2014 pole winner)
  • Jeff Gordon (2014 pole winner)
  • David Gilliland (2014 pole winner)
  • Denny Hamlin (2014 pole winner)
  • Kevin Harvick (2014 pole winner)
  • Jimmie Johnson (2014 pole winner)
  • Matt Kenseth (2014 pole winner)
  • Brad Keselowski (2014 pole winner)
  • Kyle Larson (2014 pole winner)
  • Joey Logano (2014 pole winner)
  • Jamie McMurray (2014 pole winner)
  • Brian Scott (2014 pole winner)
  • Tony Stewart (2014 pole winner)
  • Brian Vickers (2014 pole winner)
  • Kurt Busch (former Unlimited winner)
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. (former Unlimited winner)
  • Carl Edwards (former D500 pole winner)
  • Danica Patrick (former D500 pole winner)
  • Greg Biffle (former D500 pole winner)
  • Martin Truex Jr. (former D500 pole winner)
  • Ryan Newman (2014 Chase driver)
  • AJ Allmendinger (2014 Chase driver)
  • Kasey Kahne (2014 Chase driver)
  • Aric Almirola (2014 Chase driver)

Vickers will not be able to compete in the event, however, due to health issues that have sidelined him for the early part of the 2015 season.

The 75-lap race will take place on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. Denny Hamlin is the defending champion.

Supercross: Talon Hawkins to debut in Houston in relief of Jalek Swoll

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Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.

During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.

That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.

This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.

Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.

“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”

Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.