Here is what’s on tap for today’s episode of NASCAR AMERICA at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra for online/mobile devices:
· No doubt about it – Rico Abreu’s star has taken off over the last few days. On Saturday night, he won his first Chili Bowl and this morning, the sprint car standout was announced to run full-time in the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship. We’ll take a look at his incredible story.
· NBCSN’s Kelli Stavast stops by the Joe Gibbs Racing shop in North Carolina to speak with Darian Grubb, who will become crew chief for the incoming Carl Edwards this season. We’ll also hear from former crew chief/driver tandem Frank Stoddard and Jeff Burton about JGR’s shuffle atop their pit boxes and how it will affect the team.
· Our series of Top Storylines for 2015 continues with a focus on Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. After a year that was not up to his high standards, can Johnson return to form and challenge for a record-tying seventh Sprint Cup? And can Gordon recover from last year’s Chase heartbreak to make one more run for his fifth title?
· With 33 days left until the Daytona 500, we’ll look back on Mario Andretti’s 1967 Daytona 500 victory. His win in the Great American Race would be the first step in earning his eventual distinction as the only driver ever to win the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, and the Formula One World Championship.
· And last but not least, we’ll have a light-hearted Top-5 in store for you: The best on-track bloopers from 2014.
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One of the Road to Indy’s most talented young drivers will climb another step up the development system ladder this season.
Kyle Kirkwood, the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion, has signed a contract to race for Andretti Autosport in the 2020 Indy Lights season. Kirkwood will drive the No. 28 car for the reigning championship team.
A native of Jupiter, Florida, 21-year-old Kirkwood has been incredibly successful in junior formulas over the last few years. He won the F4 US Championship 2017 and won both the F3 Americas and USF2000 titles in 2018.
Driving for RP Motorsport Racing, Kirkwood won 9 of 16 races in his maiden Indy Pro 2000 season last year, allowing him to win his fourth championship in three years and earn the Road to Indy scholarship.
“We are very excited about the addition of Kyle to our Indy Lights program,” Andretti Autosport CEO and Chairman Michael Andretti said. “We’ve followed Kyle’s career from when he started in 2018 with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and have been impressed with his success in every race that led to his Indy Pro 2000 Championship last year. As a championship-caliber team, Kyle displays the desire and talent that we look for in our drivers and are excited to see him hit the track for the 2020 Indy Lights season.”
Kirkwood previously drove for Andretti in a two-day test session at Sebring International Raceway in December. He will make his official debut for the team in the season-opening doubleheader at St. Petersburg on March 14-15.
“I am ecstatic that I can now say I am competing in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport this season,” Kirkwood said. “They have established a winning program in Indy Lights and we plan on carrying that reputation throughout 2020.
“We are a fantastic match for each other and our Sebring test in December proved that.”
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