Kyle Busch

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Busch’s historic Indy chase includes hope for 500-600 double

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indianapolis is quickly becoming Kyle Busch’s favorite racing venue.

Ten years ago, he met his future wife, Samantha, at the 2.5-mile oval.

Last year, he pulled off a rare sweep by winning both poles and both races on Brickyard 400 weekend. It’s the last time Busch celebrated a Cup win and now that he’s back at the historic 2.5-mile oval, he doesn’t want to wait until next September to make a return trip. He’d like to add a May stop to his already full 2018 schedule ad attempt the fabled double bill of the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600.

“I had it (a deal) done last year, sold it and everything,” Busch said when asked about competing in the Indy 500. “I had a boss that said no.”

Busch, the 2015 Cup champion and two-time defending Brickyard champ, hasn’t given up on his dream; he’s just putting it on hold temporarily this weekend as he chases history and tries to end a 12-month victory drought.

He couldn’t have picked a better place to come. Over the past two years, Busch has been the most dominant stock-car driver at Indy.

The two-time defending Brickyard champion has led 168 of the last 189 laps here, including a record 149 out of 170 last year when he won from the pole. He also won the 2015 and 2016 Xfinity Series races from the pole, giving him four consecutive wins at Indianapolis.

When the track opened for Xfinity practice Friday, Busch’s car was near the top again – even with restrictor-plate motors.

Busch still had the third-fastest car in the first two practice sessions, turning a fast lap of 166.162 mph as overcast skies cooled the track. The Xfinity qualifications and race will be held Saturday, the same day Busch and the other Cup drivers also will take their first laps.

Even as Busch talks about winning an unprecedented third straight Brickyard, the thrill of taking a shot in IndyCar’s marquee race – and trying the 1,100-mile Memorial Day weekend double – remains a major attraction for the 32-year-old driver.

“I thought I had a great opportunity to do it (in May), but I’m kind of glad it didn’t come together because (Fernando) Alonso kind of stole the headlines the last time it was done,” Busch said. “It would be fun. It would be a unique opportunity. The thing that scares my boss is that I’ve never driven those cars.”

If he goes for it, Busch would start the day in Indianapolis for the 500 then fly to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the 600-mile Cup race. His brother, Kurt Busch, tried that in 2014 and finished sixth at the Indy 500 before a blown engine knocked him out of the NASCAR nightcap.

It would be the first time brothers have attempted the marathon.

Alonso had never driven an IndyCar or even on an oval before May. Yet the two-time Formula One champ spent most of May’s race in contention before a blown engine knocked him out with 20 laps to go.

Busch thinks his experience – and success – at the Brickyard would make him just as competitive.

In 12 Indy starts, Busch has 10 top-10 finishes. He is one of four Cup drivers with at least two Brickyard titles and last year joined seven-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson as the only back-to-back race winners. Johnson won in 2008 and 2009.

Somehow Busch has fought through the sweltering mid-summer temperatures and found the secret to winning on this narrow, low-banked oval where passing is tough.

Busch’s success puts him in rare company.

The only driver in track history to win four straight races at Indy is Michael Schumacher, the former Formula One superstar who won each U.S. Grand Prix from 2003-06 on the speedway’s road course. Nobody else has captured three consecutive major race titles at Indy, and if Busch extends his winning streak to five on Saturday, it would break Schumacher’s record.

A win Sunday would also give Toyota its 100th Cup victory, assure Busch of a spot in NASCAR’s playoff and give Joe Gibbs Racing its second win in two weeks after starting the season 0 for 17.

“It’s pretty cool to come in here and have a chance to go for three in a row,” Busch said. “But it’s frustrating that it’s been 365 days since we’ve won one of these things.”

And he would rather not have to wait even longer to give Indy a shot next season.

“I’m good,” he said when asked if he’d trade his Brickyard wins for an Indy 500 crown. “I’d just like to have a shot to go and earn it myself.”

Race Of Champions has stellar field looking for home run in Miami

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Contestants in this weekend’s Race Of Champions will be going for both a win and home run.

The win is understandable, but the home run aspect of it is due to the host location: Miami Marlins Park, home of the Major League Baseball team of the same name.

The entire infield and outfield will be turned into a challenging circuit of numerous turns and side-by-side racing. The course layout is below.

“This is all about having a good time,” IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves said. “I respect all of the drivers and every one of them competing has some amazing qualities, plus switching cars throughout the event means the advantage will constantly be shifting. That’s why this is such a great event.”

Added fellow IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, “To see a race track taking shape here in Marlins Park – where I bring my family for games – is incredible. And I also think it’s the best layout yet. I’m a home-town guy so hopefully the crowd will be cheering me on against two former ROC champions in my group.”

The two-day ROC will be divided between one-on-one races on Saturday, with team racing on Sunday.

Among Saturday’s marquee matchups:

* NASCAR’s Kyle Busch vs. F1’s Jenson Button.

* NASCAR’s Kurt Busch vs. Tom “Mr. Le Mans” Kristensen.

* Two-time Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya vs. World Rallycross’s Petter Solberg, action sports’ Travis Pastrana vs. four-time F1 champ and reigning ROC champ Sebastian Vettel.

* IndyCar’s James Hinchcliffe vs. fellow IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan.

* IndyCar’s Ryan Hunter-Reay vs. former ROC Champion of Champions David Coulthard.

* 2-time Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya vs. World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg, F1’s Pascal Wehrlein vs. fellow F1 pilot Felipe Massa.

* Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves vs. the winner of a play-off between Global Rallycross Champion Scott Speed and 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi.

* Other drivers in the field include Gabby Chaves (IndyCar), Stefan Rzadzinski and Gabriel Glusman, the latter two having won ROC Factor North America fan votes to get into the competition.

The top two drivers in each group will advance to the quarterfinals, and then a knockout tournament from there leads to crowning the Champion of Champions.

The top two drivers in each group progress to the quarter-finals. Then it’s a knockout tournament all the way to the Grand Final, when this year’s Champion of Champions will be crowned.

In Sunday’s Nations Cup competition, it’ll be America vs. The World in a Ryder Cup-style team battle:

Group A: Team USA NASCAR (Kyle and Kurt Busch), Team USA IndyCar (Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay) and Team USA Rally X (Travis Pastrana and Scott Speed) will all have to battle Team ROC Factor Canada (James Hinchcliffe and Stefan Rzadzinski).

Group B: Team Germany (Sebastian Vettel and Pascal Wehrlein), Team Great Britain (Jenson Button and David Coulthard) and Team Nordic (Tom Kristensen and Petter Solberg).

Group C: Team Brazil (Felipe Massa and Tony Kanaan), Team Colombia (Juan-Pablo Montoya and Gabby Chaves) and Team ROC Factor Latin America (Helio Castroneves and Gabriel Glusman).

Miami Marlins Park becomes the eighth different host site – and first in the United States – in recent years for the ROC, which returns after a one-year hiatus in 2016: Stade de France in Paris (2004-2006), London’s Wembley Stadium (2007-2008), Olympic Stadium in Beijing (2009), Düsseldorf’s Esprit Arena (2010-2011), Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok (2012), Bushy Park Barbados (2014) and London’s former Olympic Stadium (2015).

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Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, NASCAR’s Kurt and Kyle Busch added to Race of Champions

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Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi, as well as NASCAR racing brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch will be among those taking part in the Race of Champions Nation’s Cup on January 22 and 23 in Miami, it was announced Monday.

The race will be held at Marlins Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins. This will be the first time the race — which brings together racing champions from numerous forms of motorsports including NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One and others — will be held in the United States.

It will also be the first ROC since 2015, when Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel defeated 9-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen in London, while F1’s David Coulthard and endurance racer Alex Buncombe finished as semifinalists.

Rossi will head the largest contingent of drivers from any one series, as the Verizon IndyCar Series will also have Ryan Hunter-Reay, Gabby Chaves, Juan Pablo Montoya and Tony Kanaan also taking part in the ROCNC.

Competitors will race against each other on a specially prepared road course in identically matched vehicles.

“It’s really cool to be included in the 2017 Race of Champions,” Kyle Busch said in a media release. “You look at the list of drivers and their backgrounds and it’s pretty impressive. I love to race anything I can, so I’m really excited to be heading to Miami and getting behind the wheel of some different types of vehicles in order to compete against the best guys in the world.”

Among those entered in the competition and the series they’ll represent are:

IndyCar: 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi, 2-time Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves.

NASCAR: 2004 Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch, 2015 Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch.

Formula One: 4-time champion Sebastian Vettel, 11-time F1 race winner Felipe Massa, 2009 F1 champ Jenson Button, 13-time F1 race winner David Coulthard.

Other: 9-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen, 2-time FIA World RallyCross champ Petter Solberg, multi-motorsports series champion Travis Pastrana, 2-time Global RallyCross Champ Scott Speed.

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Kyle Busch open to Indy 500, but “wouldn’t put too good a chance” on it

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Following his dominant display this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he swept both poles and both wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Xfinity Series, Kyle Busch doesn’t have much left to conquer at the hallowed “Brickyard.”

Except, maybe, we can dream, one day, of him running that 500-miler around IMS in May.

His brother, Kurt, did it to national acclaim and a heck of a lot of headlines in 2014 – Kurt Busch finished sixth and was that year’s Indianapolis 500 Rookie-of-the-Year for Andretti Autosport before jetting to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600.

But while Kyle Busch’s name has been brought up in rumors about running the Indianapolis 500 before, he didn’t seem entirely interested in running the ‘500 just because his brother did.

“Well, I won’t be following in his footsteps.  I’ll be doing my own footsteps,” Kyle Busch told reporters during his post-victory press conference.

“It certainly may open up some avenues.  I’m not sure.  But there’s some people out there that have expressed some interest to me, so we’ll see where things kind of go.

“But obviously my focus is on the Sprint Cup Series and what I’m doing here, and being able to win races with M&M’s and Skittles, Interstate Batteries and NOS Energy Drink on the XFINITY side, too.

“So I’m having fun with what I’m doing right now, and we’ll see if something is able to line up then there’s a possibility, but I probably wouldn’t put too good a chances on that.”

However, that doesn’t mean we should rule it out entirely.

NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan spoke to Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief, Adam Stevens, who tossed out an intriguing idea of his own – a “crew chief” double after Busch’s Brickyard win.

“I would like to do the crew chief ‘Double,’ ” Stevens told NBC Sports. “Is there such a thing? That’s great. If he wants to do that, I’m all for it.”

MORE: Kyle Busch might have some NASCAR company for an Indianapolis 500 run

Busch has enjoyed a period of NASCAR dominance, and he’s right in that he isn’t following in brother Kurt’s footsteps.

Kurt’s stretched his legs with runs in IndyCar, a Champ Car test, a GRAND-AM Daytona Prototype, an NHRA Pro Stock car and an Australian V8 Supercar test over his career.

In his career, Kyle Busch has stuck almost exclusively to NASCAR – and made a living of cleaning up the competition in the process.

Both are among the most talented drivers of their generation, and since Kurt Busch did so well in his maiden Indianapolis 500 bow, we can only dream how well Kyle Busch could do if the stars aligned to ever make it happen.

At racing season’s roughly halfway point, here’s some of the bigger crashes to date (VIDEO)

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The bad news through the first half, roughly, of the 2015 international racing season is that there have been several major and severe looking accidents.

The good news is that in all of the above accidents, the drivers involved emerged almost completely unscathed and would race another day. Of the accidents, Busch was sidelined nearly half the year but returned to the track in May.

Here’s a rundown of the biggest thrills and spills thus far, from the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series, FIA Formula 1 and the Verizon IndyCar Series:

  • NASCAR Sprint Cup: Jamie McMurray’s spin triggers a large crash at Daytona
  • F1: Sauber’s Felipe Nasr has front-end impact in Canada
  • IndyCar: Ryan Briscoe survives horrific end-over-end accident in Fontana
  • NASCAR Xfinity Series: Erik Jones spun in second “big one” of Xfinity opener, while Kyle Busch slid into the unprotected inside retaining wall at Daytona
  • F1: Max Verstappen collects Romain Grosjean in the biggest wreck of the F1 season thus far, at Monaco
  • Xfinity: Daniel Suarez and Regan Smith are caught up in the first “big one” at the Xfinity opener
  • IndyCar: Ed Carpenter goes in backwards and catches air on Sunday morning of Indy 500 qualifying
  • F1: Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso have a scary coming together in Austria
  • Sprint Cup: Trevor Bayne hits the backstraight wall at Talladega in another “big one”
  • IndyCar: Helio Castroneves’ aerial flight in Indy 500 practice kicks off a concerning week of accidents
  • Sprint Cup: Austin Dillon’s crash in Daytona was the scariest one of the year by far