Geico 400 - Practice

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.”

Sainz uninjured, but to remain in hospital overnight

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Carlos Sainz Jr. will remain in hospital overnight following a terrifying crash during practice for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday morning.

Sainz slammed into the wall at turn 13 after losing control of his car, pitching in underneath the TecPro barrier at the end of the run-off area.

Medical crews spent 20 minutes extricating Sainz from his car due to the barriers’ placement before he was taken away to hospital for a check-up.

Sainz tweeted a picture to his followers confirming that he was okay, and Toro Rosso has now released a second statement confirming that the Spaniard was fully conscious throughout the crash and is uninjured.

“After arriving at the Sochi Hospital 4, Carlos Sainz, who never lost consciousness, underwent a medical examination, including a full body scan,” the statement reads. “The scan showed that the driver has no injuries.

“However, he will be staying in the hospital overnight as a precautionary measure, which is the normal procedure in these circumstances.

“We will release further information when it is available.”

Sainz tweeted that he was hoping to convince the doctors to release him from hospital early enough so that he could take part in tomorrow’s race, but any steps taken will be with his well-being in mind.

Rosberg charges to Russian GP pole in Sochi

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Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix from pole position after topping the timesheets in Saturday’s qualifying session at the Sochi Autodrom.

Rosberg posted a fastest lap time of 1:37.113 to edge out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by three-tenths of a second to score pole position in Russia.

Following on from its dominant display in Japan two weeks ago, Mercedes showed few signs of easing up at the front of the field as it stormed to another front-row lock-out.

Having traded fastest lap times throughout the earlier stages of qualifying, Hamilton and Rosberg renewed their battle in Q3 at Sochi, but it was Rosberg who finished on top.

Rosberg drew early blood in Q3 by going three-tenths faster than his teammate on his first run, and when Hamilton locked up late on and opted to pit, pole was safely with the German driver.

Valtteri Bottas finished as the best of the rest in third place, beating the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen who finished fifth and sixth respectively as all of the drivers struggled to improve on their second runs.

Nico Hulkenberg and Force India teammate Sergio Perez will start sixth and seventh, while Romain Grosjean qualified eighth. Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top ten in P9 and P10 respectively.

Home favorite Daniil Kvyat was unable to delight the local fans as he would have liked to in qualifying, dropping out in Q2 by finishing 11th ahead of Felipe Nasr. Pastor Maldonado was also eliminated, finishing 14th, but it was Felipe Massa who was the biggest casualty of the second session, ending up 15th for Williams.

McLaren experienced something of a mixed qualifying session on Saturday as Fernando Alonso was knocked out at the end of Q1. Teammate Jenson Button managed to improve late on to dump the Spaniard out and leave him 16th overall, while the Briton went on to finish 13th in Q2.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson also dropped out at the first hurdle alongside the two Manor drivers, while Carlos Sainz Jr. took no part in the session following his practice crash. The Spaniard still hopes to take part in tomorrow’s race, but will remain in hospital overnight.