NASCAR, V8 Supercars stars swap cars at COTA (VIDEO)

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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.”

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.