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.”

Montoya: ‘Hopefully I get a chance to do Indy again’ (VIDEO)

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Juan Pablo Montoya is on site at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, his latest trip in a summer and fall filled with a lot of international travel and a number of different race cars he’s been in.

Montoya is committed to a full season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Acura Team Penske in 2018, as he’ll share one of the team’s Acura ARX-05s with Dane Cameron.

However, the question of whether he’ll be able to race in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil remains.

Team Penske has said it plans to only run four cars next month of May, with Helio Castroneves as the fourth driver alongside the three full-time cars driven by Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power.

While Montoya has said elsewhere that he’s shopping offers and has talked with other teams, it’d be highly surprising to see the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion who developed the Chevrolet engine for IndyCar’s 2018 Dallara universal body kit in a Honda-powered IndyCar, although he is running Honda’s brand (Acura) in sports cars.

Montoya elaborated on his Indy 500 prospects in an interview with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton at the Circuit of The Americas.

“Not full-time no,” Montoya told NBCSN of his IndyCar 2018 prospects. “Hopefully I get a chance to go to Indy, hopefully with Penske, (and) if not someone else. We’ll see.”

Photo: IndyCar

Montoya has extolled the early testing both on the 2018 IndyCar and on the Acura ARX-05.

The first Acura chassis has run at Road Atlanta and Sebring International Raceway thus far, and will be put through its paces at other venues over the next few months.

“It’s been good. We did a lot of work with INDYCAR on that car. Fans are gonna like it,” Montoya said of the 2018 kit.

“Going to IMSA with the Acura program, we’ve done a lot of testing. It’s a beauty to drive. It drives better than what it looks! I haven’t had that much fun driving a race car in a long time.”

Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race car to be campaigned by Team Penske in 2018