Sprint Cup Driver Review: Kurt Busch

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After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year.

Finishing 10th in the standings with the Colorado-based Furniture Row Racing was Kurt Busch…

KURT BUSCH
No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
2013 Stats: 10th Place, No Wins, 11 Top-5s, 16 Top-10s, 448 Laps Led
Average Start: 13.2
Average Finish: 14.7
DNFs: 2

Estrada Says: Following a 35th place finish at Michigan in June, Busch was 20th in the standings and nowhere near in contention for a post-season berth. Undaunted, he and FRR got on a major roll with eight Top-10s the final 11 regular season races and, more importantly, five in the last six to do what no single-car squad had ever done before: Make the Chase. The fact that they were able to accomplish that almost completely overshadows their late-season problems. After finishing fourth in the Chase opener at Chicagoland, the team began to go up-and-down (13th at New Hampshire, 21st at Dover, second at Kansas) before limping home with five finishes outside the Top-10 in the last six races. Busch is now at Stewart-Haas Racing, but both he and FRR proved themselves this year and they should both be better off for their time together.

DiZinno Says: I’m not sure whether Kurt Busch has “The Outlaw” on his business cards – or if he even has business cards – but “miracle worker” might be a good descriptor of his job title after his efforts with FRR in 2013. He was able to build on the final few races of 2012 when he had a chance to join the team after his stint at Phoenix Racing, and while he didn’t win this year, he helped single-handedly raise the performance and stature of the Denver-based team in the garage area. Regan Smith won the team’s first race a couple years ago, but Busch established FRR on the map this year and made it an attractive destination for others. A seriously impressive season that proved Busch’s elite talent and returns him to a championship-caliber team after two years in the relative wilderness.

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‘No desire’ for Lewis Hamilton to race in Indianapolis 500

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Lewis Hamilton has ruled out a future appearance in the Indianapolis 500, saying he has “no real plans” to do any serious racing once his time in Formula 1 is over.

Former teammate and current McLaren driver Fernando Alonso took part in the 101st running of the Indy 500 in May, qualifying fifth and running high up the order before retiring late on with an engine issue.

The F1-to-IndyCar crossover proved to be one of the biggest motorsport stories of the year, and has stirred the imagination of other drivers to make a similar step into other events in the future, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans which is known to be on Alonso’s radar as well as that of Haas racer Romain Grosjean.

Three-time F1 world champion Hamilton admired 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato’s victory ring when on the podium at the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month, trying it on and joking it may spur him to enter the race to try and win the jewelry.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, Hamilton stressed he made the comment in jest, saying he holds not interest in entering the ‘500.

“Honestly it hasn’t inspired me to do the Indy 500,” Hamilton said.

“I’ve always respected it and appreciated it. I got to watch part of it when Fernando did it which I thought was super exciting. I love the idea of drivers being able to do more than one series.

“Just the other day I got to drive an F1 car on an oval circuit which was interesting. I have a huge amount of respect for those drivers as it is quite scary approaching those banks at the speeds that they do.

“I personally don’t have a desire to drive it. Maybe one day I will go out and have some fun.

“I have a lot of opportunities to do those kinds of things, but no real plans to do anything serious.”

Hamilton has previously said he would like to try a NASCAR race for fun one day, but has made clear his plan after his F1 career is over is to distance himself from racing in order to pursue other interests.