Kurt Busch running strong into playoffs and for many more years to come

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Short term or long term, Kurt Busch is in for the long haul. Whether it’s the upcoming NASCAR Cup playoffs or continuing to drive for several more years, he’s planning on going at things at full speed.

At the end of this season, Busch will be a free agent driver, as his contract at Stewart-Haas Racing has not been renewed. However, there are some mixed messages there as shortly after Busch made the revelation over a month ago, SHR tweeted that it wanted Busch to return.

So far, nothing has been confirmed, so Busch is approaching things as if he’ll be a free agent — unless things change.

The biggest thing for the 2004 NASCAR Cup champion right now is to start the playoffs on a strong note. The winner of this year’s Daytona 500 struggled for much of the first 26 races, but he, crew chief Tony Gibson and the rest of the No. 41 team seem to have hit upon something in the last several races.

Busch has shown vast improvement of late, particularly the last five races, where he’s finished — in order — eighth (Watkins Glen), 11th (Michigan), fifth (Bristol), third (Darlington) and fourth (Richmond).

“We started off with a huge bang, we won Daytona,” Busch said. “Since the engine change at Indianapolis, It’s like we have all the pieces now and know where we need to plug them in and where to go.”

Busch and his team have the potential — and momentum heading into the playoffs — to become perhaps the biggest and best sleeper candidate to go all the way to the final round of the championship.

And then there’s the 39-year-old’s long term viability to not only remain relevant and successful in NASCAR Cup — either with SHR or another team — for several more years. While other drivers are calling it quits, Busch says he still has much to do and achieve.

“As long as I’m with a competitive car to win races,” Busch said when asked how many more years he may still race. “To me, my heart’s in it, my body still feels young. I love the travel and have learned more about the history of our sport and places we go and race and the reasoning we race on certain tracks.

“… The contract thing, we’ll see how it all plays out. Being a free agent, it’s an interesting market now for drivers.”

Check out more about Busch’s thoughts about his tenure remaining in the following video.


Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer tied at top of Xfinity playoff standings

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Justin Allgaier and Cole Custer are tied for the top spot in the Xfinity playoff standings after the playoff opener at Kentucky Speedway.

Each driver has 2,057 points.

Allgaier finished third after bouncing back from losing a tire on Lap 19 and going two laps down. He was two laps down for 27 laps and one lap down for 30 before getting back on the lead lap.

Custer, who finished fifth, won the first two stages of the race, earning two playoff points in the process.

The top five in points are Allgaier, Custer, Elliott Sadler (-2), Daniel Hemric (-5) and William Byron (-6).

Click here for the points standings.

Results from Xfinity race at Kentucky Speedway

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images
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Tyler Reddick scored his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win, leading a 1-2 finish for Chip Ganassi Racing on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Reddick beat teammate Brennan Poole by 14.5 seconds in the playoff opener.

Reddick is the seventh different winner in the last seven series races. He led twice for 66 laps. Reddick had not led any laps until Saturday night.

Playoff contender Justin Allgaier rallied from two laps down after a right front tire went down early in the 200-lap race to finish third. Ryan Preece placed fourth. Rookie Cole Custer, who won both stages, finished fifth.

Click here for race results

Tyler Reddick wins playoff opener at Kentucky for first career Xfinity victory

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Tyler Reddick, a part-time driver for Chip Ganassi Racing, led 66 laps to win the Xfinity Series playoff opener at Kentucky Speedway.

In his rookie year in the series, Reddick earned the win in his 15th start in the No. 42 Chevrolet.

The 21-year-old driver beat teammate Brennan Poole, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Preece and Cole Custer.

“I don’t know if it was necessarily me making a statement, it’s just Chip Ganassi Racing making a statement,” Reddick told NBCSN. “(Crew chief) Mike Shiplett has brought me from ground zero all the way to here. All the guys at Ganassi have gone above and beyond in helping me become a better driver. To be here today is surreal.”

Reddick, who had not led a lap before Saturday night, took the lead for the first time on Lap 126 of the 200-lap race.

Reddick is the fourth Xfinity driver to get his first win this season.

Saturday’s win comes after it was announced on Sept. 14 that Reddick would join JR Motorsports full-time in 2018.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Cole Custer

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

MORE: Race results

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Justin Allgaier bounced back from losing a tire and going two laps down to finish third. He leaves Kentucky tied with Cole Custer at the top of the playoff standings. … Brennan Poole’s runner-up finish is a career-best result in 77 starts … Ryan Preece has finished in the top four in all three of his starts for Joe Gibbs Racing. … Ryan Reed finished 10th, ending an eight-race streak without a top 10.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Sam Hornish Jr. finished 31st, nine laps down after contact with Brandon Jones on Lap 53 caused him to hit the wall at the exit of Turn 2, forcing him to pit for repairs. … William Byron finished 18th, two laps down after he was forced to pit on Lap 101 for a loose wheel.

NOTABLE: Reddick is the seventh different driver to win in the last seven races this season. … Reddick is the seventh different winner in the last eight races at Kentucky.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I was about the color of my car (red) there for a little bit.” – Justin Allgaier after finishing third following a rebound from going two laps down early in the race.

NEXT: Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway at 3 p.m. ET on Sept. 30 on NBCSN.

Social Roundup: Sights from first Martinsville night race

Marty Snider
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The wait is over.

Night racing at Martinsville Speedway is now a reality.

After tests and practice sessions, the half-mile track in Virginia is hosting the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 and its qualifying races tonight for the NASCAR Late Model Series.

In attendance at the race are Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez, as well as NBCSN’s Marty Snider, who is watching his son Myatt compete in the race.

Here’s a look at some of the sights and sounds from the historic night for NASCAR’s oldest track.