Murto: K&N Pro Series returns to Richmond

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series is one of the sanctions steps toward the big time, and it’s been announced that the development series will return to Richmond International Raceway for the third consecutive year in 2014.

On April 25 the Blue Ox 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race is part of a Friday night doubleheader that includes the ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, as well as practice and pole qualifying for both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series.

The K&N race used to run as part of a doubleheader with NASCAR’s Late Model Stock Cars, which ran the Denny Hamlin Shootout charity race for two years. There has been no word as to what happened to the Denny Hamlin Shootout, but hopefully it will continue, maybe moving back to nearby Southside Speedway where it began.

April 25 Richmond tickets start at $30 in advance. Children 12 and younger are admitted free with a ticketed adult in general admission sections, and tickets go on sale Jan. 15, 2014.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series is a developmental series, with an East and West division. The series has produced a number of NASCAR stars, including Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., David Gilliland and Kevin Harvick and has been the NASCAR starting point for a number of racers including Austin Dillon, Trevor Bayne, Chase Elliot, Corey Lajoie and Ryan Truex. Keep an eye out for 2013 K&N East Series champion Dylan Kwasniewski, as he’s sure to be a star in the future.

The K&N/Nationwide doubleheader is perfect for anybody who wants to enjoy an evening of NASACAR racing in Richmond but doesn’t want to deal with the huge crowds associated with the Sprint Cup Series. Take a half day off that Friday, take one of your children (or a neighbor’s child) to the races, and have a good time watching NASCAR stars and up-and-coming racers in competition on a competitive short track, after you see the Cup stars practice and battle for the pole position for their April 26 event.

For additional, information visit www.rir.com or call (866) 455-7223.

The ARCA series held its banquet in Indianapolis the Saturday night after the Performance Racing Industry show, and 2013 Frank Kimmel shocked those in attendance by announcing that he will leave ThorSport Racing in order to join Win-Tron, the ARCA team owned by former ASA star Kevin Cywinski.

ThorSport had a great year, winning both the ARCA title with Kimmel and the NASCAR Camping World Truck championship with Matt Crafton. Kimmel’s departure — and that of his sponsor, Menard’s — leaves ThorSport with a racing operation with no driver or funds to continue. If the seat isn’t filled soon the ThorSport ARCA team may have to shut its doors.

Meanwhile, ARCA drivers from 28 states, four Canadian Provinces and Sweden, England and Australia converged on Daytona Beach, Fla., last weekend for the annual ARCA Test leading to the Feb. 15 Lucas Oil 200. More than 70 drivers took part in the three-day test, which put 49 different racecars on track.

Venturini Motorsports — often the best-prepared cars at the track — led the speed charts overall with 2013 Rookie of the Year Justin Boston, from Sparks, Md., who circled the 2.5-mile superspeedway at 183.602 mph. John Wes Townley – also in a Venturini car – was second best speed at 183.501 mph.

ARCA has been consolidating short track racing in the Midwest by sanctioning both the ARCA/CRA Super Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour, both pavement Super Late Model series. ARCA’s “Road to Daytona” initiative brought touring series champions Travis Braden (ARCA/CRA Super Series) and Dan Fredrickson (ARCA Midwest Tour) to Daytona to gain experience on the high banks. In its second year Braden and Fredrickson were guided by program administrator and spotter Andy Hillenburg of the Fast Track High Performance Driving School, the 1995 ARCA Racing Series champion and a two-time Daytona ARCA 200 winner. Both drivers performed well, but it’ll still take a sponsor commitment if we are to see them in competition in the ARCA series.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.