Kyle Busch falls short of Bristol sweep, finishes 11th

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Bidding to complete a second career triple-header sweep at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch ran as high as second during Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race but ultimately faded back to an 11th place finish.

Busch won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at BMS on Wednesday and followed that with another win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Friday. He was forced, however, to start from dead last on the grid for Saturday’s Sprint Cup event after spinning out in qualifying.

While trying to claw his way through the pack, he had a run-in with Joey Logano on Lap 107 that damaged the left-rear corner of his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

With track position proving to be the most important factor of all, the No. 18 team tried to get their man out in front by having him stay out under a caution at Lap 256.

That propelled Busch to second behind then-leader Paul Menard, but handling issues would soon make him fade back. He was still able to run in the Top 10 for much of the race’s second half, but a combination of used tires and a tough final restart proved enough to send him out of that bracket.

Busch was aiming to become the first driver in the history of the Sprint Cup Series to win from the 43rd starting position in a race that featured a 43-car field.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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