Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch take critical hits to Chase hopes

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Carl Edwards’ chances of winning this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup may be done for after he suffered a broken wheel hub on his No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford late during Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.

Edwards was relegated to a 35th place finish as a result, but even more damaging was a drop from fourth in the standings to 11th, 65 points behind Chase leader Matt Kenseth. With seven races remaining in the post-season, he would appear to be pretty much out of the title picture.

“We struggled all day,” said Edwards. “Our plan was to get off-sequence at the end and I thought we might have a shot at making a top-three or four out of it, but something broke in the left-rear.

“I don’t know what it was, but I don’t think it was any fault of my guys. They did a great job. [Crew chief] Jimmy [Fennig] did a great job working hard on it all day, but we just weren’t fast. We needed to hang on for a solid finish and something broke, so that’s tough.”

Also joining him in the hard-luck club at Dover was Kurt Busch, who had a sub-par result for the second weekend in a row after finishing 21st on Sunday.

Busch’s pit crew received an overhaul going into Sunday’s race as four crewmen from Richard Childress Racing’s NASCAR Nationwide Series camp joined the Furniture Row Racing team. But on Lap 156, “The Outlaw” radioed his team to say that he felt a wheel coming loose on his No. 78 Chevrolet.

“A loose wheel did us in,” Busch said. “We were way off at the start, but after the first pit stop, we made some good changes to the car and started to make a move. But once again we had an issue with a loose wheel and that put us a couple of laps down. And with the lack of cautions we couldn’t make it up.”

Busch is in almost as big a hole as Edwards now as the Chase moves to Kansas; Busch sits 55 points off of Kenseth in ninth place in the standings.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”