Even before Jared Irvan finished third in the Pro All Stars Series South super late model standings last year, the Midland resident decided it was time to take the next step in his racing career and move into NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East.
Before the 2014 season concluded, Irvan and his father, former NASCAR driver Ernie Irvan, purchased two K&N cars from Preston Peltier. They immediately focused on the Feb. 15 K&N East season opener at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway.
For several weeks leading up to the event, the 17-year-old Irvan balanced his studies at Concord First Assembly Academy with working daily on his race car with his father in their Concord shop.
The young Irvan’s goal for his K&N debut was a top-10 finish, but a tire issue spoiled his evening. The car shot into the wall after 69 of the event’s 151 laps, relegating Irvan to a 24th-place finish in the 26-car field.
One of 16 rookies in the race, Irvan now needs a new front clip for his car and financial backing.
“If we can get a sponsor, we’ll run the full (14-race) season,” said the high school junior. Race City Marine and the Brain Injury Association of America backed him for his K&N debut. “If we don’t get a sponsor, we’ll look at running the next couple of (K&N) races and maybe some PASS South (super late model) races.
“We’re searching every day for sponsors. We’re kind of in a hard spot right now (because of the wreck).”
Even before the accident in Irvan’s inaugural K&N race, he and crew chief Corey LaJoie were faced with problems on his car.
“We had a (NASCAR mandated) kill switch go bad so we had to fix that and then the main power switch ended up burning up, so we had to replace one of those,” Irvan said. “I think our main problem was the battery went bad.”
Those issues relegated Irvan to participation in only one practice session in a car he’d never driven or tested.
Irvan said the biggest adjustment he had in moving from his super late model to his K&N car was the weight difference. A super late model usually weighs about 2,800 pounds while a K&N car exceeds 3,000 pounds.
“They’re way heavier and way harder to get slowed down and turned than a super late model,” Irvan said. “A super late model you kind of drive with the right foot and power your way out of it. You can’t really do that with these because they’re so heavy.”
Irvan admitted he struggled with a tight race car during practice and that was the issue that eventually cost him a good finish in the event. The car’s brakes overheated and melted the bead on the right-front tire, which shot his car into the outside wall.
“The car is pretty messed up,” Irvan said. “We’re going to maybe try and put it back together and put one of the new composite bodies on it and maybe go to Bristol (on April 18).
“We’ve got to strip the car down and see what we’ve got. The next race isn’t for a month and a half so we’ve got a little while.”
The next K&N Pro Series East race is April 4 at Greenville Pickens (S.C.) Speedway.
Carolina Speedway adds new division
A Pure Stock division has been added to Carolina Speedway’s regular schedule for the 2015 season. Carolina Speedway’s Clint Elkins described it as an “entry level division.” The new division will be on the track’s schedule bi-weekly beginning April 3 and will go weekly in June. Questions regarding the division’s rules should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
East Lincoln to host front-wheel drive cars
For the 2015 season, East Lincoln Speedway is adding front-wheel drive cars to its regular Saturday night schedule. The 602 crate motor open wheel modifieds will compete at the track on a monthly basis, while the late models will run on the first Saturday of each month.
The UMP open wheel cars will compete at the track on one Saturday night each month. Speedway officials won’t charge more for special events. Practice on March 21 is open to the public. There is no admission fee for the grandstands, but there is a $10 per person charge for the pits.
The track opens its 2015 season March 28.
CARS roster growing
The Mooresville-based CARS Tour, in its first season as a series for super late models and late models, has 67 teams and drivers registered for the 2015 season. Those who have registered to compete in the series include Belmont’s Myatt Snider, Cornelius’ Stefan Parsons, Sherrills Ford’s Todd Gilliland, Hickory’s Tyler Church, Huntersville’s Harrison Burton, Concord’s Kyle Grissom, Troutman’s Steve Wallace, and Mooresville’s Kyle Busch Motorsports and LFR Driver Development Group.
The CARS Tour opens its 2015 season March 28 at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly with the X-1R Performance Products 300. The tour visits Hickory Motor Speedway May 9 and Nov. 1, Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson June 12 and Concord Speedway Aug. 29.
Burton victorious at New Smyrna
Huntersville’s Harrison Burton, son of former NASCAR driver and now NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton, opened the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway with a super late model victory in the 35-lap feature. It was the teenager’s first super late model win. He won a 100-lap pro late model race at the Florida short track last year.
Deb Williams is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Deb? Email her at email@example.com.