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Kyle Busch Rule? He’s fine if that’s what you want to call it

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Kyle Busch says “I guess I should be flattered” that people are referring to NASCAR’s rule limiting Sprint Cup drivers in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series as “The Kyle Busch Rule.”

Busch made the comment Friday to USA Today and ESPN.com at Martinsville Speedway.

NASCAR announced Wednesday changes that will limit how many races some Cup drivers can drive in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. The rule states:

— Any Sprint Cup driver with more than five years full-time experience can compete in a maximum of 10 Xfinity and seven Camping World Truck Series races in 2017.

— Any Sprint Cup driver with more than five years full-time experience will be prohibited from competing in the final eight Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races next year. That’s the regular-season finale for both and the seven-race Chase for each series.

— Any Sprint Cup driver with more than five years full-time experience will not be allowed to compete in the Xfinity Dash for Cash races next year.

— Any Sprint Cup driver earning Cup points in 2017 will not be eligible to compete in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series title races in 2017 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Busch has won nine of 16 Xfinity races he’s competed this season. Sprint Cup drivers have won 19 of 30 Xfinity races this year. Since 2011, Sprint Cup drivers have won 138 of 196 Xfinity races (70.4 percent).

Busch said it’s the second time NASCAR has made a rule because of him. NASCAR increased the minimum age to 18 to compete in its national series in 2001 while Busch was 16 and competing in the Truck Series.

“This is Kyle Busch 2.0,” Busch told USA Today and ESPN.com.

Joey Logano, who has won two of 13 Xfinity starts this season, says the rule change will make an impact.

“As a race car driver, I want to race all the time, so if I put my race car driver hat on I think, ‘Man, this kind of stinks,’ because I want to drive,” Logano said Friday at Martinsville.“But I think when you kind of take that hat off and look at it from more of a global view I understand it. I get why we’re doing that. 

“I think it’s important to have Cup racers out there because I think growing up as a young race car driver I learned that you only get better when you’re racing against people that are better than you, and I think this has the ability to give young drivers that and young crew chiefs coming up through the Xfinity Series.  

“If you look at it from the business end, it’s no secret that a lot of sponsors want to have the big-name drivers in there. They want to have Sprint Cup racers that can go out there and are proven winners, so that’s definitely going to change the game quite a bit from the business side of our sport. For me, I’ve run 13 races this year, so it’s not going to change my schedule a whole bunch, but for guys like Kyle and what-not, it’s going to change quite a bit.”

 

Chase Elliott, AJ Allmendinger unveil Darlington throwback schemes

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Both Chase Elliott and AJ Allmendinger have revealed the paint schemes they’ll drive in the Sept. 3 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Elliott will use his No. 24 Chevrolet to pay tribute to the car his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, drove in his first Cup start.

The light blue look was on his No. 9 car when he started in the Feb. 29, 1976 race at Rockingham Speedway.

The car was revealed on Facebook in the below video.

AJ Allmendinger will pay tribute to two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte with his No. 47 Chevrolet.

The car will resemble the No. 44 Piedmont Airlines Oldsmobile that Labonte drove in during the 198 Cup season when he competed for owner Billy Hagan.

NASCAR America: Felix Sabates: ‘I’m lucky to be here’ after near-death experience from illness last year

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For nearly a month last year Felix Sabates was at death’s door.

The fears were so great that Sabates might not wake up from a coma he spent 29 days in, Chip Ganassi bought a blue suit for the possibility he might have to attend his co-owner’s funeral.

But the 71-year-old made a full recovery through a rehab process that included learning to walk again.

NASCAR America’s Kyle Petty and Sabates have a special relationship. Petty drove the No. 42 car for Sabates’ SABCO Racing for eight years in the 1980s and 1990s, winning six of his eight Cup races for the millionaire owner from Cuba.

Sabates sat down with Petty to discuss the ordeal, which began in January 2016 when Sabates began feeling ill during the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I came home and woke up the next morning and I (couldn’t) breath,” said Sabates, who drove himself to the hospital. “The minute they saw me I was in intensive care.”

Sabates was in the hospital for two and half weeks before he was released, but Sabates “should’ve know I wasn’t cured.”

The Chip Ganassi Racing co-owner returned to his usual grind until it caught up to him in August.

“My blood pressure was through the roof, my oxygen level was 55, which you should be dead then,” recalled Sabates, who has no memory of a three-month stretch. “They thought was I was brain-dead. They were pretty much going to disconnect me. So 4 o’clock in the morning, they took my tubes out.”

That’s when Sabates began the process of waking up.

“I’m lucky to be here,” said Sabates, who aside from being back at the track is also back to playing golf.

“I used to worry about little things,’ Sabates said. “Now I don’t even worry about big things.”

The full feature will air Sunday on Countdown to Green, which begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN before the Cup race at Pocono.

NASCAR America: Ryan Blaney glad Team Penske news is finally out in the open

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On Wednesday it was finally announced that Ryan Blaney would move from Wood Brothers Racing to Team Penske full-time next year in the Cup Series in the No. 12 Ford while Paul Menard will take over the No. 21 Ford.

NASCAR America’s Dave Burns caught up with Blaney on Thursday. Blaney was happy that his 2018 plans were finally public knowledge.

Blaney also acknowledged how a technical alliance between the two teams helped Wood Brothers Racing return to a competition level that allowed Blaney to get his first Cup win this season earlier this year.

“That was a big deal,” Blaney said. “That was getting us to where we could run a full-time season. That was really helpful not only to me but to (crew chief) Jeremy Bullins, will be coming with me to the 12 car.”

Blaney has been driving for Team Penske part-time in the Xfinity Series since 2012.

“It’s been nice to get the news and tell everybody finally about what we’re doing,” Blaney said. “But mainly we’re trying to finish this year out strong with the Wood Brothers, getting their 100th win, that’s really big. That’s on my bucket list for this year and getting as far as we can in the playoffs.”

The No. 21 team returns to Pocono Raceway this weekend, the site of Blaney’s first Cup win last month.

Watch the video for the full interview.

Numbers add up for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Pocono

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Just six races remain for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to make the playoffs in his final NASCAR Cup season.

Earnhardt is ranked 22nd in the NASCAR Cup standings and there are only four open positions — that could shrink further with additional first-time winners in 2017 in the next six races — left for winless drivers to qualify for the 16-driver playoffs strictly on points.

As a result, Earnhardt and his fans know that with each passing race where the No. 88 remains winless, the urgency to win even just one race to make the 10-race playoffs increases exponentially.

Junior’s fans may be heartened to hear some positive tidbits about his chances this weekend at Pocono Raceway, courtesy of RacingInsights.com.

  • Did you know that during Junior’s nine-plus year tenure with Hendrick Motorsports, he’s earned the most top-fives at Daytona (seven in 20 starts) and … this may come as a surprise … at Pocono (seven in 18 starts).
  • Earnhardt also has six top fives both at Martinsville and Michigan (18 starts each), and five top fives at Phoenix and Talladega (also 18 starts each).
  • Of Hendrick Motorsports’ last 10 wins, Jimmie Johnson has won eight, Kasey Kahne won last Sunday’s Brickyard 400 and Earnhardt’s most recent Cup win came on Nov. 15, 2015 at Phoenix Raceway.
  • Earnhardt has gone 39 races since his last win.
  • Earnhardt won both races at Pocono in 2014. In the four races he’s been in since then, he’s finished fourth (mid-summer 2015) second (early 2016 race) — meaning he’s had four top-five finishes in his last six starts at the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
  • He also was 11th in the early 2015 race there. His only finish lower than 11th came last month at Pocono when he completed just 58 of the scheduled 160 laps before his motor expired.
  • In 34 career Cup starts at the Tricky Triangle, Earnhardt has two wins, 11 top fives, 15 top 10s and one pole.
  • Earnhardt is ranked sixth for most laps led by winless drivers this season, with 24 laps led. By comparison, Kyle Busch has led 1,040 laps, the most of all winless drivers in 2017.

Add all those elements together and could Junior’s best chance up to now to win and lock in a playoff berth come this Sunday?

We’ll soon find out.

Follow @JerryBonkowski