Kurt Busch: “Short-run speed” needed for second trip to New Hampshire

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Kurt Busch was one of the stronger drivers in the Sprint Cup Series’ first visit of 2013 to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this past July, leading a race-high 102 laps before a multi-car incident relegated him to a 31st place finish.

However, there’s always room to improve and for the return trip to Loudon this weekend, the Chase contender feels that he’s going to need a car that’s every bit as good on shorter stints as it was on longer ones in July.

“I like to run the long runs there at New Hampshire,” Busch said in a NASCAR teleconference earlier today. “Making your car work for 100 laps at a time, I think, is key with some of the strategy that’s been played there the last few years on pitting and then running long distances.

“With that said, you cannot sacrifice short-run speed, and that’s where I think our Furniture Row car got in trouble in the first race is that our car was a bit too vulnerable.

“We couldn’t be aggressive on restarts and we got spun around by Kenseth, our championship leader, earlier this year. We have to protect our car better on short-run speed and still have that long-run speed in case it comes back to play.”

Busch finished fourth last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway after overcoming a pit road speeding penalty that he dubbed today “a bogus thing in my mind,” once again maintaining that his tachometer lights were green all the way down.

In a stat that no driver wants to lead, a reporter mentioned that Busch is tied with Casey Mears for the most pit road speeding violations this season at seven apiece.

Luckily for Busch, his penalty happened early on at Chicagoland. But that’s something he can ill afford to have happen to him in the closing stages of these Chase events.

“The thing that has to be clear internally with Furniture Row Racing is that the guy setting the tach isn’t going conservative on his own and then I’m going doubly conservative to make sure we’re not too conservative once we’re out performing,” he said.

“Because we have to perform in this Chase.  We can’t lose spots on pit road with slow pit stops and we can’t lose spots on pit road driving too slow in a speed zone.”

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”