NASCAR: ENEOS expands Xfinity Series sponsorship for Kyle Larson, No. 42 team

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ENEOS, the synthetic oil brand of Japan’s JX Nippon Oil & Energy, will expand its partnership with the No. 42 NASCAR Xfinity Series program of HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi.

Sprint Cup rookie of the year Kyle Larson will drive the ENEOS Chevrolet Camaro in eight NXS events this season, including the Feb. 21 season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

The ENEOS colors will also be on the car at Atlanta, Fontana, Charlotte (spring), Bristol (summer), Chicagoland, Dover (fall), and Phoenix (fall).

Additionally, as part of the expanded deal, ENEOS becomes a full-time associate sponsor for the No. 42 team and Larson’s World of Outlaws team, Larson Marks Racing.

“We are very excited to continue our partnership with ENEOS for the 2015 season,” Chip Ganassi Racing president Steve Lauletta said in a statement. “Additionally, it will be great to have a Japanese company continue a partnership with Kyle Larson, the only current driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series with a Japanese heritage.

“We feel like the partnership in NASCAR will help continue build the ENEOS brand amongst current race fans and further expand NASCAR to a new group of fans.”

Larson competed in 28 NXS races last year and won twice at Fontana and Charlotte. The latter race was also the first race in ENEOS’ sponsorship of the No. 42 team.

An IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Talladega? Drivers have discussed it

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If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is interested in an IndyCar iRacing event on an oval, he might like the latest idea being kicked around by NTT Series drivers.

“I personally would want to run at Talladega, but I don’t think that’s an option,” Arrow McLaren SP driver rookie Oliver Askew told NBCSports.com in a Friday interview about his simulation work for the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “IndyCar drivers have a group chat with iRacing, and someone had the idea of running at Talladega, and I thought it was brilliant.”

It actually would be a throwback of sorts as a USAC-sanctioned race with Indy cars at Talladega nearly happened 40 years ago.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will be running its second consecutive road course Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or streaming here).

Of the four remaining races in the six-race series, there’s a chance that three of them could be ovals: A Drivers’ Choice track April 11; a “Random Draw” April 18 and a non-IndyCar “Dream” track May 2 (the April 25 race will be at Circuit of the Americas).

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IndyCar drivers are voting on next week’s track, and the options include high-speed ovals such as Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan Speedway.

A multicar crash at Talladega last October. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talladega apparently isn’t on the list for next week, but surely it could be considered for a future race if it meant having Earnhardt in the field. The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is a six-time winner at Talladega, and the NASCAR on NBC analyst’s family is synonymous with the 2.66-mile oval where his late seven-time champion father won a record 10 times.

“I hope he can make that happen,” Askew said of racing against Earnhardt. “I hope IndyCar can grant his wish on that.”

The addition of Earnhardt would fit well with an IndyCar iRacing Challenge that already features champions from NASCAR (Jimmie Johnson) and Supercars (Scott McLaughlin).

Will Power would like to see more of that.

“I think that would be great if we can get big-name drivers from other series,” Power said. “Getting a couple guys from Europe would be cool.”