Bristol Update: Kyle Busch trying to make strategy route work

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Kyle Busch is playing the strategy card as he tries to get up front from the 43rd starting position in tonight’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

As of Lap 300 of 500, Busch was running third behind leader Paul Menard and Carl Edwards after both Busch and Menard stayed out during the most recent caution period (Lap 256 – debris).

Busch has already had quite the eventful night. He had made noticeable progress in the first 100 laps before his car snapped loose momentarily on Lap 108 and caused Joey Logano to make contact with him from behind.

The run-in damaged Busch’s left rear fender, but while he fell to 31st as a result, he was able to stay on the lead lap despite multiple stops for repairs.

By Lap 245, Busch had made his way up to 23rd before the No. 18 crew opted to keep him on the track when the yellow emerged about 10 laps later.

With 200 laps to go at Bristol, it’s Menard, Edwards, Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya in fourth and Jeff Gordon in fifth.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.