Kurt Busch on the move toward potential Chase berth

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Kurt Busch and Furniture Row Racing are continuing to punch above their weight – and doing it rather well. “The Outlaw” came out of last night’s metal-mangling finish to the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona with a sixth-place result, causing him to break into the Top 10 of the Sprint Cup standings for the first time all season.

“We didn’t quite have the speed and momentum to break through at the end and challenge [race winner] Jimmie [Johnson],” said Busch in a team statement. “But it was a solid finish, with a lot of high-fives with team members after the race.”

Time will tell if Busch can hold on to a Chase berth as the regular season continues to wind down. He jumped five positions last night to ninth in the championship, but is just two points ahead of Tony Stewart in 10th. Just as important, he still hasn’t hit the win column in 2013, while Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne – the two drivers currently in the Chase’s wild card spots – each have won once.

But the good news for Busch is that he has caught fire (the safe, figurative kind) in recent weeks. A 35th-place finish at Michigan last month knocked him back to 20th in the standings, but since then, he’s rattled off three consecutive Top-10 results with finishes of fourth at Sonoma and back-to-back sixths at Kentucky and Daytona.

Busch and Furniture Row still have a lot of fighting to do in order to make the Chase, but it seems their confidence is growing week by week.

”These Furniture Row Racing guys are working hard and it’s paying off,” Busch said of his team’s efforts. “We made mistakes here and there and everywhere, but we’re putting it together now and it’s starting to bear the fruit. We moved into the top-10 in points, so that’s pretty cool.

“We have a long way to go, and yet we still are getting better.”

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

SMP Racing
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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.