There were two noteworthy stories coming out of the NASCAR Nationwide Series ranks on Tuesday.
Shigeaki Hattori, the owner of Hattori Racing Enterprises, announced that his team will be running more NASCAR Nationwide Series races this season than originally expected and as a result the team will scale back the number of NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races they run.
"We started our Nationwide Series program this year with intentions to run only a few Nationwide Series races and to have two cars full time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. At this point in the season, however, we have decided that we need to focus more on our Nationwide Series program," Hattori said. "There are several factors that have influenced this choice, and we have received a lot of support from our sponsors encouraging this decision. We are still a small team, and I believe we need to run more Nationwide Series races to gain more experience so that we can be even stronger next season."
The HRE team ran the No. 80 Toyota with Goodyear on the hood in the Nationwide Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway with Johnny Sauter behind the wheel. He impressed by qualifying ninth and running competitively before finishing one lap down in 28th. Sauter will be back in the No. 80 car for the team's next Nationwide Series effort which will be at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24th for the History 300.
HRE plans to run their No. 1 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East car with driver David Garbo Jr for the remainder of the 2014 season but only in select races left on the schedule. Garbo is currently 16th in the East Series points after collecting one top 10 in the first five races of the season.
The No. 80 Nationwide Series team is currently 49th in Nationwide Series owner points after only collecting the one qualifying attempt so far this season. The team plans to announce future schedules as the season moves on and the move is fueled by the team's sponsors wanting to make the transition.
Also on Tuesday Team Penske announced that Alex Tagliani will drive the NASCAR Nationwide Series races this season at Road America on June 21st and at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16th in the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Fusion. Last season AJ Allmendinger drove the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford for Team Penske to victory lane in both of these races.
Tagliani has made four career Nationwide Series starts including once for Penske in 2011 at the road course in Montreal. In that race Tagliani started second, led 11 laps, and finished second. He won at Road America in 2004 when he was racing in the CART Series. The veteran road racer has vast experience in the IndyCar Series, CART, Sports Cars, V8 Supercars, and even the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
He won a Canadian Tire Series race in 2008 and was the 2011 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter. So far in 2014 Tagliani has competed in three of the five TUDOR United Sports Car Championship races in the PC class for RSR Racing.
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