IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe believes Kurt Busch can win Indianapolis 500

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It may just be one teammate talking up the merits of another teammate, but IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe believes NASCAR driver and Indy car rookie Kurt Busch is a legitimate contender to win the Indianapolis 500 in his first-ever start there on May 25.

“He’s in an Andretti Autosport car so I definitely believe he can win,” Hinchliffe told PopularSpeed.com’s Matt Weaver.

Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won Sunday’s IndyCar race in Birmingham, Ala., will both be Busch’s teammates in the 500, and it could wind up being a great day for Andretti Autosport.

“I think we’re going to be strong in the race and I think we’ve showed that the past couple of years,” Hinchcliffe said. “(Busch is) a professional. He has more professional races under his belt than the rest of the field combined with as many races as NASCAR runs and I’m sure he’s going to adapt pretty quickly.”

Busch, who will undergo his first day of rookie orientation on Tuesday, is hoping to become the first driver to attempt the so-called “double” since Robby Gordon’s third try at the feat in 2004.

Other drivers who have attempted 1,100 total miles across two races on two diametrically opposite types of tracks and in completely different types of race cars include John Andretti and NASCAR star Tony Stewart.

Having been friends with Busch since he won the first Sprint Cup championship in 2004, Hunter-Reay told Weaver that even if he wasn’t Busch’s teammate for the 500, he still would his effort in high regard.

“For Kurt to do what he’s doing, it takes a lot of guts,” Hunter-Reay told Weaver. “To jump out of your Cup car and hop into an Indy car and immediately hop right back into a Cup car, I respect him for that.”

(Of course, if that happens, it’s likely Busch won’t make it to Charlotte for the green flag, given all the post-500 celebrations, trophy presentations, interviews and other commitments he’d have to take part in.)

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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.”