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Kurt Busch: Wife Ashley is ‘perfect support’ for racing life

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While Kurt Busch had a busy offseason that included competing in the Race of Champions in Miami, his most memorable moment had nothing to with racing.

It came on Jan. 9 when Busch saw his wife, Ashley Van Metre, walking down the aisle during their wedding in Saint Barthélemy, a Caribbean island.

“Getting a little choked up,” Busch said while recounting the moment to NBC Sports during last month’s NASCAR Media Tour.

The newlyweds have publicly been together since February 2015 and Busch proposed in August 2015.

“Ever since the day that I met her, I knew that she was special and she’s been wonderful,” Busch said, adding the model “adapted so well” to life in the world of NASCAR thanks to being “a competitor herself.”

Ashley Busch, a native of Middleburg, Virginia, has played polo internationally for more than 14 years.

“Growing up, playing polo in fierce competitions across the world,” Busch said, “She knows how to travel, she knows competition and she’s so much of perfect support person for good racing days and bad racing days. She gets it all.

“We complete each other. Not just the sport side of it, but who we are as human beings.

“She’s so caring, so passionate and loving that I knew I needed to grow in some of those areas and she’s helped me to that and it’s been wonderful this season” Busch said.

While Busch’s competitor, Dale Earnhardt Jr., also was married recently, only Busch can say a singer named Steven Tyler performed at his.

Tyler made a surprise appearance during the Caribbean wedding. At first, Busch said his guests didn’t know they were being entertained by the genuine article.

“We wanted it as a surprise for everybody,” Busch said. “So we had a curtain in front of the stage area and when the curtain dropped everybody like, ‘Wow, that’s an awesome tribute band. They look great. No, no, he’s starting to sound like Steven Tyler.’

“About halfway through the first song people just rushed the stage and it turned into a full-on rock concert. It was a great feeling and it all came together through some of my connections with Monster Energy.”

Busch said the surprise concert originated from meeting the right people during a post-race tailgate at Talladega Superspeedway last year.

“You make a phone call on Monday and the next thing you know Steven Tyler says, ‘Yeah, I like NASCAR. Yeah, I like the Busch brothers. I’ll come out and do it’,” Busch said

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NASCAR America: Steve Letarte on challenges of avoiding speeding penalites

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NBC Sports analysts Steve Letarte joined the NASCAR on NBC podcast this week. One of the topics the former crew chief discussed is the challenge of avoiding speeding penalties on pit road. Letarte said the introduction of digital dashboards has made it even harder.

Watch the video to hear his thoughts.

NASCAR America: Comparing severity of Harvick, Keselowski and Allmendinger penalties

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NASCAR handed out two crew chief suspensions in the Cup this week following the race weekend in Phoenix while another was upheld on appeal.

Brad Keselowski‘s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, was suspended three races and the team was docked 35 driver and owners points for failing weights and measurements in post-race inspection.

Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, was suspended one race and the team docked 10 driver and owner points for an unapproved track bar slider assembly.

The penalties for AJ Allmendinger‘s team, including the suspension of crew chief Randall Burnett, was upheld after an appeal.

The NASCAR America crew debates which team is hurt the most by their penalties.

 

Mario Andretti tries out, approves of Charlotte Motor Speedway road course

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We now have two positive reviews of the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course.

Following AJ Allmendinger‘s comments back in January, IndyCar legend Mario Andretti has shared his thoughts on the 2.4-mile circuit that will likely host a NASCAR Cup race in fall 2018.

As a guest of the track and the NASCAR Racing Experience, the 77-year-old driver piloted two cars – a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid and a 2017 Cadillac CTS-V. Andretti maxed out at 177 mph in the Porsche.

“It’s very difficult sometimes to really create a road course where you can ‘stretch your legs’ inside an oval,” Andretti said in a press release. “From that standpoint, I think they did a good job by giving it rhythm by putting some banking to the hairpin corners – which obviously invites some overtaking. It’s wide enough that you can choose a line. You’re not really trapped. … It’s got a multiple-line (groove) that you can choose from, depending on the capability of the car.”

The “roval” circuit would use most of the 1.5-mile oval NASCAR already competes on.

Allmendinger took part in a data test on the road course in mid-January and later said it “was a lot of fun.”

Earlier this month, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Marcus Smith said the track “learned a lot” from the test.

“We have done a lot to engineer a world-class road course that would include the ‘roval,'” Smith told NBC Sports, adding that “several truckloads of crash walls and catchfence” were being transported in for installation.

The Cup Series has two road courses on it schedule, at Sonoma Raceway in California and Watkins Glen International in New York.

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Drivers unhurt in crash of Furniture Row Racing hauler near Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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The drivers of the Furniture Row Racing hauler carrying Erik Jones’ No. 77 Toyota were uninjured Thursday in a hit-and-run accident 15 miles north of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Travis Watts, who was behind the wheel, and David Shano were traveling from Phoenix Raceway to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, when their tractor-trailer rig was struck shortly after midnight on Interstate 15, according to a team release. The team said a car carrying two occupants pulled off the shoulder and back onto the highway directly in front of the truck, causing front-end damage to the tractor.

The team said there was no damage to the trailer or its interior, which was carrying Jones’ cars.

“We’re all very relieved no one was injured in the incident,” team president Joe Garone said. “There was substantial damage to the tractor, but everything in the trailer was checked out thoroughly and is OK. We’ve rented a tractor and the No. 77 hauler is on schedule to arrive at Auto Club Speedway later (Thursday).”

The team rented a replacement tractor at a Rush Truck Centers in North Las Vegas.

According to the team, the Nevada Highway Patrol apprehended and arrested the occupants of the car. The team is working to supply police with a video dash cam from the No. 77 tractor.