Kurt Busch fastest in Brickyard final practice

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s NASCAR qualifying record could be shattered later this afternoon after Furniture Row Racing’s Kurt Busch topped the charts in this morning’s final practice session with a lap of 188.419 miles per hour in his Chevrolet – more than two mph better than Casey Mears’ record of 186.293 mph, which he set in 2004.

After being caught in a wreck two weeks ago at Loudon, Busch is one of multiple contenders that are currently on the outside looking in as the run to the Chase continues. He sits 14th in the standings, but is only just seven points out of 10th place.

That spot in the standings currently belongs to Hendrick Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne, and it appears he also has a fast ride going into today’s qualifying session at IMS. He was second-quickest in “Happy Hour” with a lap at 188.210 mph.

2000 Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, who led yesterday’s first practice, was third-quickest (187.664), followed by defending Brickyard 400 champ Jimmie Johnson in fourth (187.379) and Ford leader Marcos Ambrose in fifth (187.106). Kyle Busch (187.075) was sixth-quickest this morning to lead the Toyotas.

In all, 14 drivers turned laps in “Happy Hour” that broke Mears’ track record, which means this afternoon should hold a very interesting run for the pole. Qualifying will start at 2:10 pm ET.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.