Kurt Busch 25th in Sprint Cup points — IndyCar, too

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The folks on Reddit.com have quickly become big NASCAR fans, thanks to their support earlier this season of Josh Wise at Talladega Superspeedway.

As a result, we like to periodically check the different forums at Reddit to see what’s going on and what folks are talking about.

And what we found Wednesday definitely opened our eyes.

We all know that back in May, Kurt Busch became the first driver in a decade to do “the double” – racing in both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day.

And we also know that the elder Busch brother is a full-time Sprint Cup driver.

But did you know – and thanks to the folks at Reddit.com for pointing this out – that Busch is TIED in the same place in the IndyCar driver standings with where he is on the Cup circuit?

After 19 races and heading into this weekend’s Brickyard 400 back again at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Busch is scored 25th in the Sprint Cup Series, 230 points behind leader Jeff Gordon. Busch has one win and just four top-10 finishes (all in the top-five, for the record). (To be fair, Busch is ranked 11th in the Chase-eligible standings.)

And in the IndyCar Series and based on his sixth-place finish at Indy, Busch is also 25th in the standings – even though he has competed in just the Indy 500 thus far (his only start in the first 14 races thus far, and what will likely be his only start this season).

Yep, that’s right. You can check it out, as they say, if you don’t believe us. (Some Reddit posters actually have Busch in 24th in the IndyCar standings, but we’re going with the official points rankings from both series as our baseline — and they both say he’s in 25th.)

What does all that mean in the whole big scheme of things?

Other than being a statistical quirk, probably not much.

But then again, if Busch can rank 25th in the IndyCar series and just have one start, it shows he’s doing better overall in IndyCar this season than Sprint Cup.

Check out the standings below to see the statistical quirk:

http://scores.nbcsports.msnbc.com/racing/index.asp?page=standings&cat=&series=NASCAR

http://scores.nbcsports.msnbc.com/racing/index.asp?page=standings&cat=&series=IRL

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Street race in Vietnam could lead Formula One’s Asia expansion

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TOKYO (AP) — Formula One is expected to add more races in Asia, including a street circuit in the capital of Vietnam, a country with little auto racing history that is on the verge of getting a marquee event.

“We think Hanoi could come on in the next couple of years, and we’re working with the Hanoi government to that end,” Sean Bratches, Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations, told the Associated Press.

There is even speculation it could be on the schedule next season, which Bratches rebuffed.

Vietnam would join countries like Azerbaijan, Russia and Bahrain, which have Grand Prix races, little history in the sport, and authoritarian governments with deep pockets that serve F1 as it tries to expand into new markets.

“This (Hanoi) is a street race where we can go downtown, where we can activate a large fan base,” Bratches said. “And you have extraordinary iconography from a television standpoint.”

A second race in China is also likely and would join Shanghai on the F1 calendar. Bratches said deciding where to stage the GP will “be left to local Chinese partners” – Beijing is a strong candidate.

Bratches runs the commercial side of Formula One, which was acquired last year by U.S.-based Liberty Media from long-time operator Bernie Ecclestone.

Formula One’s long-term goal is to have 24-25 races – up from the present 21 – and arrange them in three geographical segments: Asia, Europe and the Americas. Bratches said the Europe-based races would stay in middle of the calendar, with Asia or the Americas opening or ending the season.

He said their positioning had not been decided, and getting this done will be slowed by current contracts that mandate specific places on the calendar for several races. This means eventually that all the races in Asia would be run together, as would races in Europe and the Americas.

The F1 schedule is now an inefficient jumble, allowing Bratches to take a good-natured poke at how the sport was run under Ecclestone.

“We’ve acquired an undermanaged asset that’s 67-years-old, but effectively a start-up,” Bratches said.

Early-season races in Australia and China this year were conducted either side of a trip to Bahrain in the Middle East. Late in the season Formula One returns to Asia with races in Japan and Singapore.

The Canadian GP this season is run in the middle of the European swing, separated by four months from the other races in the Americas – the United States, Mexico and Brazil. These three are followed by the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, which means another trip across the globe.

“With the right economics, with the right structure and cadence of events across territories, 24 or 25 is probably where we’d like to be from a longer-term standpoint,” Bratches said.

Big changes are not likely to happen until the 2020 season ends. This is when many current rules and contracts expire as F1’s new owners try to redistribute some income to allow smaller teams to compete.

“There’s more interest than we have capacity in the schedule,” Bratches said, firing off Berlin, Paris or London as potentially attractive venues. “We want to be very selective.”

“Those cites from an economic impact standpoint would find us value, as do others around the world,” Bratches added. “It’s very important for us as we move forward to go to locations that are a credit to the Formula One brand.”

An expanded schedule would have to be approved by the teams, which will be stretched by the travel and the wear-and-tear on their crews. The burden will fall on the smaller teams, which have significantly smaller revenue compared with Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull.

Bratches also envisions another race in the U.S., joining the United States Grand Prix held annually in Austin, Texas. A street race in Miami is a strong candidate, as are possible venues like Las Vegas or New York.

“We see the United States and China as countries that could support two races,” he said.

Liberty Media has reported Formula One’s total annual revenue at $1.8 billion, generated by fees paid by promoters, broadcast rights, advertising and sponsorship. Race promotion fees also tend to be higher in Asia, which makes the area attractive – along with a largely untapped fan base.

In a four-year cycle, F1 generates more revenue than FIFA or the International Olympic Committee, which rely almost entirely on one-time showcase events.

Reports suggest Vietnamese promoters may pay between $50-60 million annually as a race fee, with those fees paid by the government. Bratches said 19 of 21 Formula One races are supported by government payments.

“The race promotion fee being derived from the government … is a model that has worked historically,” Bratches said.