For all drivers and teams scrambling to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup, they’ll have one moment to look back on that either made or broke their chances for the post-season.
Kurt Busch and Furniture Row Racing may have found their ‘made’ moment on a Lap 162 restart in today’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Busch had been at the front of the field earlier but a four-tire stop in the previous caution period had sent him from sixth to 14th going into the green flag. His main competition in the Chase battle were now ahead of him, and with less than 40 laps to go, Busch couldn’t afford to stay behind.
“You can’t run 14th and gain on guys [in the standings],” said Busch, who went to the outside on the restart and proceeded to peel off a staggering eight positions – making up all the ground he had lost on pit road when most of the other drivers opted to go for two tires instead of four.
Busch would move up to fourth by the time another yellow came out at Lap 172, and after momentarily dicing with eventual race winner Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick on the Lap 177 restart, he settled in and raced to a third-place finish that vaulted him into ninth in the Sprint Cup standings.
With three races to go before the Chase begins, Busch and the single-car, Colorado-based Furniture Row Racing are back where they need to be in order to race for a championship.
“We’ll just keep plugging away,” said Busch. “We’ve got three to go and we’re in the mix.”
Brendon Hartley says scoring a point on his Formula 1 debut would be “a dream” after being resigned to last place on the grid for the United States Grand Prix following an engine penalty.
Porsche factory driver Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso to replace Pierre Gasly for the USGP when the Frenchman was ruled out due to clashing commitments in Super Formula.
Despite having not driven an F1 car since 2012, Hartley came within one-tenth of a second of making it through to Q2 on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas, ultimately qualifying 18th.
“Obviously I’d love to be quicker but we knew we were starting at the back, so we put a lot of focus on long runs, getting the peak performance out of this Pirelli tire I didn’t get today,” Hartley told NBCSN after the race.
“In FP3 I had a good feeling. There’s a lot of quirky things to manage with these tires. Honestly I should be happy with how the weekend’s gone so far.”
The New Zealander will start last due to a 25-place grid penalty for changes made to his power unit ahead of practice on Friday, and is daring to dream of making the top 10 in his first race out of a sports car for more than five years.
“I don’t do the 24 hours completely alone!” Hartley joked. “It’s quick. It’s physical to drive. I’ll be happy to be done after an hour and a half.
“A point would be a dream starting from the back. If I can move forward and put a race together, I’ll be happy.”
The United States Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.