NASCAR: Emotions boil over at Bristol for Kyle Busch, crew chief Dave Rogers

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The trials and tribulations of Bristol Motor Speedway can be very frustrating to deal with.

Thus, it’s probably safe to assume that Kyle Busch and his crew chief, Dave Rogers, are not the first driver/CC combo to get mad at each other during a night in Thunder Valley.

But considering that they’re preparing to race for a Sprint Cup title in a few weeks, their radio conversation late in last night’s Irwin Tools Night Race may not be interpreted as a good sign.

Busch’s frustrations began earlier on in the evening, when he was tagged with a pit road speeding penalty and then got involved in a multi-car pileup at Lap 125 that effectively ruined any hope of a decent finish.

Fast-forward to near the end of the race, where Busch and Rogers had the following radio exchange according to Motor Racing Network’s Dustin Long:

Busch: “I need a whole new right front suspension, a whole new right front suspension. I will be behind the wall in about two [expletive] laps.”

Rogers: “Park it behind the truck and take your whiny little ass to the bus.”

Both Rogers and team owner Joe Gibbs downplayed the exchange afterwards, with Rogers characterizing it as a miscommunication.

“We came back here to the truck and had a great talk,” Rogers said according to Long. “You look at things like this as a negative and negatives create positives if you look at them the right way. We got to air things out and had a great talk. I think we’re going to be better going forward.”

As for Gibbs – who’s no doubt seen some instances like this before over the course of his careers in both the NFL and NASCAR – he didn’t express concern about a potential rift between his driver and CC on the No. 18 squad.

“That’s just pro sports,” Gibbs said according to NASCAR.com. “Every now and then, you get frustrated.”

Over the last four races, Busch, Rogers and the 18 camp have suffered one calamity after another.

Pocono saw Busch bow out early with an engine failure. At the next race at Watkins Glen, contact between him and Martin Truex Jr. relegated “Rowdy” to a 40th-place finish.

Then at Michigan, Busch hit the wall on Lap 4 and was forced to the garage for extensive repairs before finishing 39th. Last night, Busch was credited with 36th place.

In a post-race statement on his own web site, Busch did not reference his exchange with Rogers.

“It was a very frustrating night,” he said. “I thought we had a pretty good Doublemint Camry, and we were able to make it through the field there at the start of the race and take the lead. I’m not sure where we are off on the speeding penalty, but we’ll have to look at what the issue there was.

“You get back into the field, and we ended up getting caught up in someone else’s mess. The Doublemint guys worked hard to get our car as raceable as possible, but it turned out to be a really long night.”

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.