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When Kyle Busch had to tell eager-to-learn teammate Daniel Suarez ‘No more’

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Kyle Busch is one of the first people young NASCAR drivers go to for advice.

It’s no wonder, given that the younger Busch brother has won 170 combined races in all three of NASCAR’s major series, as well as the 2015 Sprint Cup championship and the 2009 Xfinity crown.

Busch knows the drill all too well: The young drivers want to pick his brain by asking questions, seeking advice, ask for tips on how to drive a certain track, how to set up their race car better and so forth.

When Joe Gibbs Racing elevated Daniel Suarez to full-time status in the Xfinity Series in 2015, the Mexican driver asked Gibbs for advice and how to acclimate himself to NASCAR’s junior league.

We’ll let Busch – as late broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say – pick up the rest of the story:

“Coach (Gibbs) said, ‘Daniel, go to your teammates,’” Busch explained during Tuesday’s Media Day session in Charlotte.

“(Suarez) is very eager, that’s for sure,” Busch said of Suarez wanting to learn everything he can. “He definitely was either told by Coach or Steve DeSouza (JGR Xfinity chief) or both, ‘You better go use the resources as much as you can, so go use Kyle’ because we were teammates in the Xfinity Series.

“So his rookie season in Xfinity he came to me every single Thursday. It was set on the calendar, ‘Daniel Suarez, phone call, 3 o’clock!’ And we’d talk about that weekend’s racetrack, about what to do, about what to expect, this and that, practice, tire wear and everything else.

“Then during our (at-track) practice breaks with Xfinity, if I didn’t have to go back to a Cup car, he’d come over to my hauler and he’d be right there. He wore me out, that’s for sure. It was a good thing, it wasn’t a bad thing. But then  we started getting to the racetracks for the second time, I was like, ‘No, no, you can’t do this again, you already were there once. I already gave you everything I knew the first time’ so no more. I told him he has to cut it back a little bit.

“Then this past year, he came to me a couple times and I said, ‘You know, you don’t use me as much as you used to.’”

Busch, who will now be NASCAR Cup teammates with Suarez as he replaces the retired Carl Edwards, then attempted to imitate Suarez’s reply, saying with an accent, “You told me not to.”

“And I said, ‘No, I didn’t say you couldn’t,’ I just said ‘Use me sparingly, like once every five weeks is ok.’ Now that he has me, Matt (Kenseth), Denny (Hamlin) and Martin (Truex Jr.) to go to, I would be once every five weeks again, so I’m like that works, that’s good.”

Obviously, the 25-year-old Suarez learned his lessons well from Busch: He won the NASCAR Xfinity Championship in 2016. This year, he’ll be going for NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year honors.

When media session host Doug Rice thanked him for attending the session, Busch slipped back into his Suarez accent and quipped, “No problem, man. Adios.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

My Home Tracks: New Mexico’s the Land of Enchantment and home of Cardinal Speedway

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The state of New Mexico is known more for IndyCar racing, with the Unser family being the state’s favorite sons.

Al Unser won four Indianapolis 500s, brother Bobby three and Al’s son Al Jr. a two-time winner (this weekend’s 500 marks the 25th anniversary of Little Al’s second 500 triumph).

But there’s a strong grassroots racing scene in the Land of Enchantment, particularly in the far southeast corner of the state at Cardinal Speedway, a half-mile dirt track in the little town of Eunice.

NASCAR America continues its My Home Track series of 50 states in 50 shows.

Wednesday, we visit New York state.

2018 NASCAR schedule changes: EVP Steve O’Donnell breaks it down (video)

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On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell joined us to discuss the NASCAR Cup schedule changes in 2018, including running a road race at Charlotte and having Indianapolis be the final race before the playoffs.

“I’m real excited about these changes,” said O’Donnell, who cited unprecedented cooperation between NASCAR, its teams, drivers and sponsors to reach agreement on the schedule changes.

Among the key changes: Las Vegas will kick off the 10-race playoffs in 2018 (Chicagoland Speedway, which will have hosted the last seven playoff openers, will return to its more traditional race date in early July/late June and serve as a run-up to the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.

Several other changes include:

  • The fall playoff race at Charlotte will move up a couple weeks in the schedule and also incorporate competition on both the infield road course and part of the speedway itself.
  • After 14 years as the deciding race to qualify for the NASCAR Cup playoffs, Richmond International Raceway will now become the second race of the playoffs.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway will see it’s Brickyard 400 go from late July to become the final qualifying race for the playoffs in early September.

Catch up on all the changes in the above video.

Tony Stewart pulled over by state trooper, but it’s not for speeding

Photo courtesy Damein Cunningham Twitter account
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Retired NASCAR Cup driver and team co-owner Tony Stewart was stopped by an Illinois State Trooper over the weekend near DeKalb, Ill., about 90 minutes west of Chicago.

But before you think Stewart was stopped for speeding by Trooper Damein Cunningham, he wasn’t.

Rather, Cunningham pulled Stewart over for improper lane usage, although exactly what the infraction was is unclear.

After getting a verbal warning, Stewart gladly posed with Cunningham for a selfie, which the trooper promptly tweeted out.

“Just pulled over NASCAR LEGEND Tony Stewart on I-88 in DeKalb, IL, what you think I got him for? #NASCAR #ISP”

But according to the Chicago Tribune, Cunningham’s bosses apparently didn’t have a sense of humor about the incident or realize the good PR it meant for the Illinois State Police.

That, or they’re not Stewart or NASCAR fans. They ordered Cunningham to delete the tweet, which he did.

It’s unclear what Stewart, who was stopped on his 46th birthday, was doing in the Land of Lincoln.

But his luck went from bad to worse a few hours later. According to USA Today, Stewart and others were stuck in an elevator in a Madison, Wisconsin hotel for about 20 minutes before being rescued by firefighters.

We can just imagine what the elevator riders talked about while trapped.

How much do you want to bet Stewart said, “Man, do I have a story about a cop that I have to tell you.”

Cunningham then posted another tweet on Sunday after attending church services.

 

Follow @JerryBonkowski

All-Star Race will remain at Charlotte in 2018

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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NASCAR confirmed that the All-Star Race will be held again at Charlotte Motor Speedway despite more of a push from competitors and others to move the event.

Criticism was raised after last weekend’s 70-lap event featured only three lead changes. Kyle Busch took the lead on the restart to begin the final 10-lap stage and went on to win. It marked the fourth time in the last five years the All-Star winner led every lap in the final stage. In 12 All-Star Races at Charlotte since the track was repaved, there have been two lead changes in the final five laps.

Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, was clear in a call with reporters Tuesday that the All-Star Race is set for Charlotte.

“We’ve finished our discussions for ’18,” he said. ” We’ll begin looking at ’19 and beyond in the near future.”

The All-Star Race debuted at Charlotte in 1985, moved to Atlanta in 1986 and returned to Charlotte the following year. It has been held at Charlotte ever since.

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