AdvoCare 500

Another clutch restart helps Kurt Busch move into Top 10

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Once again, a monster late-race restart helped Furniture Row Racing’s Kurt Busch keep pace in the Race to the Chase.

Two weeks ago at Michigan International Speedway, Busch was 14th coming to a restart with 38 laps to go but shot to sixth in one lap and went on to a third-place finish.

Then, last night in the Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he roared from 11th on a restart with 33 laps remaining all the way to second before the caution came out again for a spinning Brian Vickers.

“I can’t tell you what I did right, but it all went right,” Busch said about the restart, which set up a brief battle with younger brother Kyle for the lead when the green came back out with 28 laps left.

Unfortunately for Kurt, the high line proved problematic for him.

“The inside lane was definitely the preferred lane on restarts and I didn’t realize how bad the outside lane was until I got to try it on the outside of Kyle,” Kurt said.

“I could not put the power down up there. The inside versus the outside was a tremendous difference. I thought I had something for Kyle but that outside lane was like ice.”

But Kurt still went on to finish fourth at the checkered flag, which moved him from 12th to 10th in the Sprint Cup standings – six points ahead of Jeff Gordon for the final automatic bid in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

With one more race to go before the post-season starts – Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway – “The Outlaw” and FRR control their destiny.

“We had handling problems, but our Furniture Row guys never gave up,” said Kurt, who started 32nd on Sunday. “We made some major swings with the setup throughout the race and I can’t believe we finished with a Top-5.

“We didn’t have a Top-5 car tonight, but that one restart turned things around for us.”

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.