Late incidents have drivers fuming at Kurt Busch

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By their design, NASCAR’s green-white-checkered finishes create frenzied dashes that carry an “every driver for themselves” feel. Kurt Busch seemed to follow that spirit in last night’s conclusion to the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, but in doing so, he drew the ire of some of his rivals.

The most notable of which was Tony Stewart, who had been pushed up the track by Busch and let him know of his displeasure by running up against the side of his car after the race. The two continued their argument verbally in the hauler area.

In addition, Busch was tagged from behind by pole sitter Matt Kenseth, who afterwards said that Busch “knocked [his] whole side off” on the final restart. Busch would retaliate for Kenseth’s earlier contact by damaging the back bumper of the latter’s machine.

Busch defended his decisions in the G-W-C period, citing the “free-for-all” nature of the finish.

“Green-white-checkered — everybody is going to put on tires,” he said. “Some guys are going to do two. Some guys stayed out. And it’s just a free for all. There is rubber build-up in the outside groove. There are cars sliding up with old tires. So, I don’t know what the No. 14 [Stewart] was upset about.

“I got hit from behind. I got hit every which way. So did he. Kenseth moved us up out of the way at the end, so that’s why I was upset with him…We got a top 10. But the biggest thing here is ten laps ago, this car didn’t have a scratch on it, and now it’s destroyed.”

A third driver was also unhappy with Busch. Martin Truex Jr. was running second when he was spun out on Lap 347 thanks to contact with the former Sprint Cup champion. Truex wound up 17th in the end.

“I ran him hard, I ran him tight, but I gave him plenty of room,” he said. “He didn’t need to do that. He was driving in over his head trying to get a win, I guess.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III