After poor qualifying, Kyle Busch rallies to finish 3rd

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Altogether, Kyle Busch felt well enough with his third-place finish in today’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, a fine result considering that he started 29th on the grid.

Busch took four tires ahead of the final restart under green-white-checkered but had to deal with the high line, which proved not to be the ideal place in the end.

“I was on the top lane, so it was dirty up there with the way the rubber lays out there during the run,” he said. “There wasn’t a long enough caution to get it cleaned up enough.

“Felt like we ended up where we should have anyway today, and we had a good car, so, nice to finish up like that.”

After starting in the back, Busch quickly moved toward the front and broke into the Top 10 by Lap 80. A green-flag cycle around Lap 90 eventually left him higher up in fourth spot, and the next green cycle around Lap 140 ended with him in the lead.

He wouldn’t stay there for long, however, as Jeff Gordon removed him from P1 on Lap 153. Busch would pretty much hover in the Top 5 for the rest of the day but had problems keeping the leaders in sight – until the yellow came out with two laps left for Kurt Busch’s tire failure.

“We had the second-to-the-last stint where we got behind a little bit on our adjustments, we were loose and I lost time to the leaders,” Busch said. “When we came in and pitted on that final green flag pit stop there, [crew chief] Dave [Rogers] and the guys made good adjustments.

“I was able to come back up and cut my deficit to the leaders probably in half, but I was probably so far behind I wasn’t going to get there. Then, the caution came out. Chaos ensues on a restart…You fight for everything you can.”

Joe Gibbs Racing got two of its drivers in the Top-10 today, with Busch finishing third and Matt Kenseth climbing from 26th to finish a quiet but solid seventh. Denny Hamlin led the race during the middle stages but suffered a pit road speeding penalty during the Lap 140 green cycle; he was unable to completely recover, finishing 13th.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.