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Kurt Busch taking Daytona 500 trophy on tour with its first stop in Las Vegas

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Kurt Busch wants to share the biggest win of his NASCAR Cup Series career with everyone he can.

He’s doing so by taking the trophy from his Daytona 500 victory on the road. That road begins this weekend in his hometown of Las Vegas.

Busch was inspired to take the Harley J. Earl Trophy on a tour last week when he learned only two versions of the trophy are given out by Daytona International Speedway and no other replicas are produced.

“I wanted to get replicas for Ford, Monster Energy, for myself and whomever is significant enough to get a replica,” Busch said last Friday. “But they only make two. That is what is so significant and powerful about this trophy.”

One copy of the trophy was taken to Haas Automation’s headquarters in Oxnard, California. Busch’s copy sits in the Stewart-Haas Racing shop in North Carolina, but that’s only temporary.

“I am going to get the nice carrying case that goes with it, and I am going to send it out on a tour,” Busch said. “I am going to turn our Harley J. Earl trophy into the Stanley Cup.”

The Stanley Cup is awarded to the champion of the National Hockey League and during the offseason each player on the team gets to spend one day with the iconic hardware.

Busch will put the trophy in his carrying case and transport it to Las Vegas this weekend, where the NASCAR Cup Series will visit Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Kobalt 400.

On Thursday, he will present the trophy at an assembly at Durango High School, where he graduated. Also present will be a replica of the No. 97 Ford Busch won the 2004 Cup Series championship with.

“I graduated 20 years ago. That is good and bad I guess,” Busch said. “I talked to the principal there, who I actually went to school with, Nate Miller. We will have a little pep rally and it will be spirit day at Durango before race weekend at Vegas. Jeff Motley gave us race tickets to give away and Pole Position Raceway gave away 97 go-kart passes for kids to come to the go-kart track and race there.”

While at his old stomping grounds, Busch will be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. The moment will be marked by a replica hood from his championship car being hoisted into the rafters.

On Saturday, Busch will haul the trophy to Star Nursery, which sponsored his car when he competed in the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour from 1997-99.

After that, the trophy will take up residence at Monster Energy’s headquarters Corona, California.

Busch heads to Vegas sitting second in the Cup point standings following his seventh-place finish at Atlanta. It’s the sixth time Busch has earned top 10s in the opening two races of a Cup season.

Busch will make his 16th Cup start at home track this weekend. He is still seeking his first win on the 1.5-mile track, where he has an average finish of 21.2. His only top-five finish came in 2005 when he placed third.

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Jimmie Johnson to start in the rear after gear change

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INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Johnson‘s bid for a record-tying fifth Brickyard 400 will have to begin at the back of the 40-car field.

Johnson qualified fourth Saturday but stated on Twitter that he’ll have to go to the rear of the field because they had to change the rear gear.

Although track position is pivotal at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because passing is difficult, optimists can view Johnson’s woes as a good sign. He has scored two of his three wins this season – Texas and Dover – after starting in the rear.

Also starting at the rear today is Cole Whitt (rear gear change) and Joey Gase (engine change). Whitt qualified 34th. Gase qualified 38th.

Today’s race is on NBC. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green.

 

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Today’s Cup race at Indianapolis: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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The NASCAR Cup Series takes part in the 24th annual Brickyard 400 today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It marks one year since Kyle Busch earned his last Cup win, when he claimed his second Brickyard 400 in a row. Busch starts from the pole for the second year in a row.

Here’s all the important info you need ahead of the race, which airs on NBC.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 2:32 p.m. Green flag is set for 2:44 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 160 laps (400 miles) around the 2.5-mile speedway.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 20

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 50. Stage 2 ends on Lap 100.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Cup garage opens at 9 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 1:55 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Carly Pearce will perform the Anthem at 2:26 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. with Countdown to Green. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will broadcast on radio and the Performance Racing Network at 1:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the IMSRN/PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 89 degrees at race time with a 15 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Kyle Busch started from the pole and led 149 of the race’s 170 total laps. It was his second win in a row in the race. Matt Kenseth finished second, Jimmie Johnson finished third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the full starting lineup.

Get a humorous look at life in the pits in, what else, ‘The Pits’ on NBC livestream

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Life in the pits can sometimes, well … really be the pits.

But it can also be a hilarious look at life in NASCAR, as well.

That’s the premise behind “The Pits,” a three-part “mockumentary-style series” that spoofs the life of the fictitious SONIC pit crew in NASCAR.

“The Pits” debuts Sunday on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. After each 2-3 minute episode airs, replays will be available on NBCSports.com and also the NASCAR on NBC Facebook page.

The first episode airs during this Sunday’s live stream of the Brickyard 400, which will be televised on NBC.

Episode 1 follows pit pro Rita, who falls for tire specialist Max, but Max’s only affection is for SONIC Pretzel Dogs.

The other two episodes of The Pits will livestream Saturday night, August 19, during the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and during the Sunday, October 15 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“The Pits” is produced for NBC Sports Group and SONIC Drive-In by The Kicker, with shareable content running across NBC Sports Digital assets.

Starting lineup for 24th annual Brickyard 400

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Kyle Busch will lead the Brickyard 400 to the green flag Sunday for the second year in a row.

He earned his fourth pole of the year and is seeking his first Cup win since the 2016 Brickyard 400.

Following Busch in the starting lineup is Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin is the only driver in the top five who hasn’t won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Click here for the full starting lineup.