Kurt Busch hopes to revisit early career success this weekend at Loudon

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New Hampshire Motor Speedway was one of Kurt Busch’s go-to tracks early in his career.

He won his first race ever there – in a Camping World Series truck in 2000 – and then went on to earn three NASCAR Cup wins (back-to-back races in 2004 and a third triumph in 2008).

“When you’re able to go to a track where you’ve had that kind of success, it just gives you confidence,” Busch said. “Because of the wins and everything, it’s a place we go to where I feel like I especially know what it takes from the car and the driver to be successful.”

But since his 2008 Cup win, Busch has struggled more often than had success at the 1.058-mile flat track in bucolic Loudon, N.H.

In the 12 NASCAR Cup races at NHMS since his last top five there (third in summer 2010) through this race last summer, Busch’s best showing was 10th (twice). On the flip side, he also recorded six finishes of 20th or worse in that same stretch.

But things may be turning around for Busch, who races in Sunday’s Overton’s 301 at NHMS. In his most recent visit to the track, last fall’s playoff race, Busch finished fifth – his best finish since that third-place showing in 2010.

Busch looks forward to continuing his recent success at New Hampshire, and if it means tight racing and the kind of fender banging that’s typical at New Hampshire, Busch is ready to get it on.

Usually, you’re trying to keep your eye on the main prize, which is victory lane at the end of the day,” Busch said. “If you have a run-in early on in the race, that guy is going to be trying to find you or you’re looking over your shoulder.

“So if you can sort of hit a reset button and right a mistake, you do that, but not at the expense of taking yourself out of position for the win.”

Overall, Busch, 39, is tied for most wins (three) among active drivers at New Hampshire with Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman.

In addition, Busch also has two runner-ups, seven top threes, eight top fives and 13 top 10s. He has also led 541 laps in 32 starts at NHMS. His average start is 11.8, average finish is 15.8 and his lap completion rate is 96 percent.

Thus far this season, Busch has one win – the season-opening Daytona 500 – as well as two top-fives and eight top-10s in the first 18 races on the NASCAR Cup schedule.

Busch comes into Sunday’s race ranked 15th in the NASCAR Cup standings. He’s struggled in his last two starts (Daytona, 28th, crash; Kentucky, 30th, engine) and has three DNFs in his last six starts (Dover, 37th, crash).

The key to success at New Hampshire will be to stay alert for wrecks unfolding in front of you, stay out of trouble and especially stay on top in late restarts.

“It seems like it has changed a little bit toward the end of the race with a lot of aggressive restarts,” Busch said. “That is when you gain positions, or it’s easy to lose positions.

“Everybody is out there elbows out, pushing hard, and you hope to not have trouble.”

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Erik Jones tops final Cup practice for Brickyard 400

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Rookie Erik Jones was fastest in the final Cup Series practice session for the Brickyard 400 with a top speed of 185.845 mph.

Jones’ top speed came on his third of nine laps around Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Completing the top five were Kevin Harvick (185.824), Ryan Blaney (185.816), Jimmie Johnson (185.487) and Jamie McMurray (185.460).

Matt Kenseth, 20th fastest, recorded the most laps in the session with 34.

Johnson had the best 10-lap average at 180.951 mph. Kyle Busch followed him at 180.864 mph.

Click here for the full practice report.

During the practice session the spotter for Harvick, Tim Fedewa, told the driver over radio that he had his hard card taken by NASCAR after the sandwich he was eating fell from his perch on the Pagoda. NASCAR confirmed it returned his hard card after practice.

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Toyotas dominate opening Cup practice at Indianapolis

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Toyotas took the top three spots and four of the top six spots in the opening Cup practice session Saturday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Denny Hamlin, driving a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, led the way with a lap of 187.414 mph. He was followed by Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., whose Toyota went 185.559 mph. JGR driver Matt Kenseth was next at 185.200 in his Toyota.

Kasey Kahne was fourth for Hendrick Motorsports, leading his Chevrolet to a lap of 185.151 mph. Kyle Larson was next at 185.002 mph in his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. The top Ford was Ryan Blaney. He was eight in his Wood Brothers Racing ride at 184.453 mph.

There were no incidents in the 55-minute session.

Final Cup practice is scheduled to go from 11 – 11:55 a.m. ET on CNBC.

Click here for full practice report

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Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch among those penalized practice time at Indy

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NASCAR announced that the teams of Jimmie Johnson and Corey LaJoie will miss 15 minutes of practice in Saturday’s first session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for being late to inspection before last weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The teams of Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon will each miss 15 minutes in Saturday’s final practice session for multiple inspection failures before last weekend’s race at New Hampshire.

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

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Points leader Elliott Sadler continues his quest for his first Xfinity Series championship in today’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Sadler has made five previous Xfinity starts at the historic Brickyard. His two best finishes there have come in the last two races – fifth in 2015 and sixth last year.

Sadler holds a 45-point edge over JR Motorsports teammate William Byron and a 90-point lead on teammate Justin Allgaier.

Here are the particulars for tonight’s Xfinity race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 3:37 p.m. Green flag is set for 3:49 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 100 laps (250 miles) around the 2.5-mile speedway.


STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 30. Stage 2 ends on Lap 60.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Xfinity garage opens at 9 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 2:15 p.m. Driver introductions are at 3 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Corey Cox will perform the Anthem at 3:31 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 3 p.m. with Countdown to Green. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will broadcast on radio and the Performance Racing Network at 3 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the IMSRN/PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 90 degrees at race time with a 23 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Kyle Busch started from the pole and led 62 of the race’s 63 total laps. Kevin Harvick finished second, while Paul Menard was third. Busch also won the 2015 race.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying begins at 12:45 p.m.