Kurt Busch gets comfortable in traffic on first day of Indy 500 official practice

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The runs Kurt Busch had made up to Sunday in the No. 26 Suretone Honda for Andretti Autosport were solely single-car runs, where he had a chance to acclimate simply to the nature and handling of the lighter, less powerful IndyCar compared to the heavier, more brutal and higher horsepower NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car.

Sunday marked Busch’s first chance to run in traffic, in dirty air, in a moment he appreciated. He banked 31 laps on the day, with his fastest on lap 29 of 220.352 mph good for P12 on the time sheets.

“It was a nice rookie day to go play in traffic,” said the 2004 Sprint Cup champion. “The Andretti Autosport guys ramped up where we are with the levels, to get in dirty air. Today was a nice shakedown, and the second run was a baseline run.  It was nice to have a champion, Ryan Hunter-Reay, take me around, and then with Munoz and E.J. Viso. It’s just neat to move to the next step, which is to go out there in dirty air and draft with teammates.”

Busch described the difference of running in traffic in NASCAR versus traffic in IndyCar as “times 10,” in IndyCar, so he could easily catch the car in front of them. With less horsepower, it’s a lot to digest.

“At 220 things are moving quick, but it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “Today I can draw a checkmark through the day as a successful rookie day in playing with dirty air. The next day we have to advance that, and the next day we have to advance it again. Thursday we’re going to look at taking downforce off the car to get into qualifying mode. We’ll see how it all pans out.”

Additionally, although there was talk of Busch doing his first IndyCar race last fall in the season finale at Auto Club Speedway, he was pleased he opted not to do so, citing a lack of proper preparation.

“I’m glad I skipped out on Fontana last fall,” he admitted. “That would have been like drinking through a funnel, more of a keg stand I think. Because of all the practice days, it’s going to help me get comfortable and digest the information. I think with just a one-day practice at Fontana last fall, it wouldn’t have been a good idea.”

Busch and the rest of the five-car Andretti Autosport effort resume practice on Monday.

Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Super Formula test hampered by engine woes

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Dominant GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne had his first go in a Super Formula car at Suzuka on Wednesday, but the engine woes that have hampered his Formula 1 team’s efforts (McLaren) all season appear to be equal opportunity woes.

Vandoorne only completed a limited day of running due to technical issues; naturally, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Super Formula cars also have Honda power.

The Belgian is now en route from Japan to Abu Dhabi, where this weekend’s final round of the GP2 season will be held alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA Formula E to remain at Battersea Park following vote

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Wandsworth Council’s Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted seven to four late Tuesday night, in favor of retaining the FIA Formula E event in Battersea Park.

This will see the London ePrix – the season finale for the electric open-wheel championship – continue at the site for at least the next two seasons.

The 2016 race will run July 2-3, to avoid a direct head-to-head clash with the British Grand Prix a week later in Silverstone.

Battersea Park’s race faced local opposition in recent weeks, which put the race under threat.