WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA with Dale Jr. and Chase Elliott at 5 p.m. ET

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. is NASCAR’s most popular driver in the present. But the driver he currently employs, Xfinity Series champion Chase Elliott, could assume that mantle in the not-too-distant future.

One thing is certain: They’re both heading into pivotal 2015 campaigns. Earnhardt won four times in 2014 but wants more after being eliminated in the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Meanwhile, Elliott – the future driver of Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet – hopes to defend his Xfinity Series title and also do well in his first series of Cup starts.

You’ll hear from both Earnhardt and Elliott in one-on-one interviews today on NASCAR AMERICA. If you can’t tune in at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, you can stream today’s show online and on your mobile device through NBC Sports Live Extra.

Also on tap:

· We’ll have the latest news on the protection order hearing involving former Cup champion Kurt Busch…

· During last week’s NASCAR Media Tour, we asked the drivers how they thought this year’s new rules package will affect racing in 2015. We’ll bring you their answers…

· And we’ll have a clip of our interview with six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, which will air in its entirety on Thursday’s show.

If you plan to stream, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified. Once you plug those pieces of information in, you’ll have access to the stream.

Again, CLICK HERE at 5 p.m. ET to watch NASCAR AMERICA.

Indy Lights: Kyle Kirkwood joins Andretti Autosport

Road to Indy
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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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