Kurt Busch, like the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, was in Texas a couple weeks ago for the NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The 2004 series champion made a return engagement to the state for an entirely different reason.
As part of a media preview day ahead of the Austin 400, to be held May 17-19 and the first race for the Australian V8 Supercars in America to be held at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas, Busch and former V8 Supercar champion James Courtney swapped cars.
The V8s are the top racing series in Australia – essentially the Australian equivalent of NASCAR in terms of popularity and manufacturer interest. Fans have traditionally supported just one marque, and until this year the only options were Holden and Ford before two new entries from Mercedes-Benz and Nissan.
The only similarities between the Chevrolet SS NASCAR and the Holden Commodore V8 Supercar on display in Austin comes from their road-going versions – the same car is sold in both markets in respective left and right hand drive versions.
“Sitting on the right side, shifting a bunch of gears with my left arm, you’re not in your comfort zone and it’s hard to understand what task of the car is next until you start checking things off your list that you learn the racetrack as well,” said Busch of the V8. “So there were quite a few things going on. Information overload, to say the least.”
Courtney’s take on the NASCAR: “The car was bigger and heavier. It has so much power. It’s really quite an experience. It was also quite cool to see blow past the V8 car on the straight. It was really good. I’m forever grateful that the team gave me this opportunity.”
Valtteri Bottas is confident of scoring a good result in tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix after qualifying third at the Sochi Autodrom on Saturday.
Bottas finished as the ‘best of the rest’ in Q3 behind the leading Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, beating the Ferrari drivers to secure P3 for the start of tomorrow’s race.
After a difficult run of form, Bottas believes that he can capitalize on this good qualifying result and make the most of the Williams car’s suitability to the track in Sochi.
“It was a strong job by the team today,” Bottas said. “We managed to set-up the car well and maximize our performance.
“I felt very good in the car all day and managed to get in a rhythm quickly and put in consistent lap times despite the limited number of laps we had completed in practice.
“Tomorrow is where it really matters but I have put myself in a very good position to capitalize.”
Bottas’ teammate, Felipe Massa, was less impressive in qualifying as a mistake and traffic caused him to drop out in Q2, finishing P15.
“I made a mistake at turn eight in my first timed lap in Q2, and then in my final two attempts I came up against a lot of traffic which lost me a lot of time,” Massa explained.
“On my final run my tires were gone at the rear and that was the end of my chances. It’s a shame and I’m very disappointed, but I have a quick car around here so we need to have a good strategy and use our pace to move up into the points tomorrow.”
The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.