Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick glad to see boss, teammate and friend Tony Stewart back in race car

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HAMPTON, Ga. – Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch are fully in support of their boss, Tony Stewart, being back in a race car this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“It’s going to be great to have our boss and teammate in the field,” Busch told host Claire B. Lang Thursday night on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Dialed In. “To have him and the heavy hearts that’s been around Stewart Haas Racing the last few weeks, back at the track and focused on making laps, that’s the best medicine for everybody.

“… His name is on the company’s logo. He’s our leader and it’s great to have him back in the car.

While Busch and other teammate Kevin Harvick did not hear from Stewart during his three-week seclusion and absence from NASCAR, Patrick was one of the few that had a brief communication with Stewart.

“I heard from him last weekend, telling me good luck and it was good to hear from him,” Patrick said Friday morning. “It’ll be good to have him back. Obviously, he is the namesake to our team name. We’ll be all on board to help him with whatever he needs, but he’s Tony Stewart, so I’m sure he’ll be fine.

“Obviously with it being such a tragic accident, it’s something to work through.”

Busch compared some of the emotions Stewart is going through as to military veterans experiencing post-traumatic syndrome. Busch works extensively with veterans during his non-racing time.

But Busch said having Stewart back at the track will be a boost of support for the overall organization. He also addressed the possibility that Stewart is still eligible to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“We’re just trying to get the staff back to normalcy this weekend,” Stewart said. “I’m glad it’s happening and we’re able to move forward. With the Chase around the corner, it’s great for Harvick’s team, my team and Danica still has a chance.

“And Tony, I don’t know how it’s all going to shake out with the rule of not qualifying and being eligible, but sometimes you just have to go out there and take the medicine. I’m glad that Tony has decided that it’s time to get back in the car. He’s the only one who could have made that choice.”

Added Patrick, “Trying to feel something normal again probably might feel good to him. But again, it was a tragic accident and there’s no timeline when you work through that.”

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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.”