NASCAR: Dale Jr. expects even more performance in 2015

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One of the biggest stories in 2014 was Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s best season in a decade, with four wins including the Daytona 500 and a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship challenge for most of the year.

Yet even as longtime crew chief Steve Letarte heads to the NBC Sports broadcast booth next year, Earnhardt expects an uptick in performance with Letarte’s replacement, Greg Ives.

“My expectations are to perfrom at a higher level,” Earnhardt told FOX Sports’ Darrell Waltrip during a 2015 preview special on Sunday.

“We have everything from Steve still intact. Having a new crew chief with Greg means new ideas. We expect to improve as a team.”

Earnhardt noted that with Ives’ recent experience in the XFINITY (then-Nationwide) Series, his work on those cars will translate better ahead of next year’s rule changes coming to the Cup level.

Reduced horsepower coming next season is probably the biggest change.

“The way the rule changes are coming about, that goes into Greg’s wheelhouse,” Earnhardt explained. “He’s worked on cars with this type of horsepower.

“We did a test a month or so ago, and everything he brought over worked on our 2015 package. I need to be professional and give him the opportunity to do his job. I think it will work out really good.”

Proof, then, that even though ugly sweaters are all the rage this month, Earnhardt and the 88 crew are still focused on business come 2015.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.