Kyle Busch at the center of multicar crash just after the start of Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kyle Busch’s miserable season at Daytona International Speedway continued Friday with immediate misfortune in his return to the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Returning to a car at Daytona for the first time since suffering injuries in a Feb. 21 crash that sidelined him for nearly three months, Busch’s No. 18 Toyota spun and triggered a crash involving at least nine cars after being tapped in the left rear by Brad Keselowski’s Ford nine minutes into the first practice for the Coke Zero 400.

Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Greg Biffle, Sam Hornish Jr., Trevor Bayne and Jamie McMurray also caught a piece of the crash. It appeared that backup cars were in order for at least Busch, Newman, Hamlin, Biffle, Truex and Hornish. Keselowski was able to drive back to the garage and didn’t seem to have sustained serious damage.

“Looks like (Keselowski) got into my left rear,” Busch, who appeared to be unhurt, said in a terse interview on NBCSN after watching a replay. “He got away unscathed and trashed everybody else’s stuff.”

Busch and Keselowski have been in an ongoing rivalry, which NASCAR Talk writer Dustin Long touched on in a story today for NBC’s SportsWorld. 

Though there was no reference to any of their history, Busch did label Keselowski’s move as “not very smart. All these guys at the shop and everybody, they work way too hard building race cars in general to be wrecking them in practice. There’s room to lift (off the throttle) and sometimes people don’t.

“It’s his fault. He caused it, but I’ve also been in the same boat and caused them before. It’s practice, you don’t need to be up a guy’s left rear. I rolled out and got out of the gas I don’t know how many times just to not run into the car in front of me because it’s not that time of the game to go.”

Time is of the essence for Busch, who won last Sunday at Sonoma Raceway in the fifth race of his return from the injuries. After missing the first 11 races of the Sprint Cup season, he is ranked 37th in the points standings and must reach the top 30 over the final 10 races of the regular season to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Daniel Hemric fastest in first Coca-Cola 600 practice

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CONCORD, N.C. — Daniel Hemric was fastest in the first Cup Series practice session for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.

Hemric posted a top speed of 182.791 mph around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He was followed by Chase Elliott (182.340 mph), William Byron (182.211), Kyle Busch (182.168) and Jimmie Johnson (182.008).

Alex Bowman was seventh to put all four Hendrick Motorsports cars in the top 10.

Austin Dillon in eighth gave Chevrolet six cars in the top 10.

Landon Cassill recorded the most laps in the session with 37. He was 32nd on the speed chart.

Click here for the speed chart.

Shane Lee to drive for new Xfinity team with Circuit City sponsorship

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CONCORD, N.C. — Former Richard Childress Racing driver Shane Lee will compete for a new Xfinity Series team, H2 Motorsports, the team announced Thursday at Charlotte Motor speedway

Owned by 23-year-old entrepreneur and venture capitalist Matt Hurley, the team will be sponsored by Circuit City and will field Lee in the No. 28 Toyota with support from Toyota Racing Development. They’ll debut June 16 at Iowa Speedway with plans to compete for the rest of the season.

Circuit City, which is primarily an online store now, was notably a sponsor of Hut Stricklin from 1996-98 in the Cup Series.

“I grew up an avid race fan, my parents are from the Midwest and I’ve followed the sport very, very closely since I was a young kid,” Hurley said. “More recently felt like there was an opportunity to go into the sport and bring some of our invested brands back into the sport. I’ve really taken an interest in kind of trying to find a way in.

“We felt like now is the right time to enter the sport, to come in in a competitive way. … Felt like TRD was the right partner to help us do that in a competitive way.”

Lee, 25, competed in the Xfinity Series last year, making 13 starts in RCR’s No. 3 Chevrolet. His best result and only top five was a fourth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in October.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Lee said. “I met Matt at a couple races last year. We actually became pretty good friends and we weren’t really even working on a racing deal. Probably January or February we started talking about the race deal and wanting to get into racing. We sort of went from there and he got himself figured out and he really went down the line and hired some really good people.”

Lee will be paired with crew chief Pete Rondeau. Rondeau has 103 Cup races to his name, including as crew chief for Regan Smith’s 2011 Southern 500 win.

Rondeau also has one Xfinity Series win with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Bristol in 2004.

“I’ve had a history of accepting challenges,” Rondeau said. “As we did with Furniture Row team, we worked hard and … it ended up flourishing into a championship-caliber team. To me this is no different right here. We have a good core group and I’m happy to work with them. It’s going to be fun and a whole lot of work at the same time.”

Gallery: Coca-Cola 600 patriotic paint schemes

Photos by Daniel McFadin
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With Memorial Day weekend here, many NASCAR teams will be racing patriotic paint schemes in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Here’s a look at the unique schemes that will compete in NASCAR’s longest race.

All photos by Daniel McFadin.

Landon Cassill – No. 00 Chevrolet

Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Ford

Ryan Newman – No. 6 Ford

Aric Almirola – No. 10 Ford

Ty Dillon – No. 13 Chevrolet

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – No. 17 Ford

William Byron – No. 24 Chevrolet

Corey LaJoie – No. 32 Ford

 

Michael McDowell – No. 34 Ford

Matt Tifft – No. 36 Ford

David Ragan – No. 36 Ford

Ryan Preece – No. 47 Chevrolet

Jimmie Johnson – No. 48 Chevrolet

Cody Ware – No. 51 Ford

Bayley Currey – No. 52 Ford

BJ McLeod – No. 53 Chevrolet

Alex Bowman – No. 88 Chevrolet

 

Kyle Larson wins Speed 51 Open kart race

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Kyle Larson kept his winning ways going Wednesday night when he won an Outlaw Kart race at Millbridge Speedway in Salisbury, North Carolina.

Four days after his win in the Monster Energy All-Star Race, Larson took the lead on Lap 2 of the 51-lap Speed 51 Open and led the rest of the way.

Larson held off Chase Majdic for the win, his second in the event.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver won despite losing his muffler in the middle of the race and having to replace his left side upper wing earlier in the night after a qualifying event.

Larson has a busy weekend ahead of him with World of Outlaws races at The Dirt Track at Charlotte on Friday and Saturday night, the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, and the Word of Outlaws’ Memorial Day Classic at Lawrenceburg Speedway in Indiana on Monday.