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.”

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”