Kurt Busch tops “Happy Hour” at Pocono

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Kurt Busch certainly hasn’t been lacking in the speed department as of late, and he was at the top of the charts again during final practice for tomorrow’s Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway. “The Outlaw” went P1 in the session with a lap at 175.333 miles per hour around the triangular 2.5-mile oval.

“The guys just keep bringing fast cars,” Busch told SPEED Channel afterwards. “It’s really nice to drive consistent week in and week out, and then we polish up on some items once we unload. We’re just a little warm on the brakes right now. [We have] just a couple more maintenance items that we have to throw at the car because it’ll be a lot warmer tomorrow with the sunshine out.”

After rain washed out all on-track activity on Friday, Pocono is expected to see drier, sunnier conditions for Sunday’s 400-mile main event. At 17th in the Sprint Cup points, Busch is aiming for a critical victory that can get him into contention for a wild-card spot in the Chase.

Jimmie Johnson, who will start on pole following Friday’s washout, was second-quickest in “Happy Hour” with a lap at 175.305 mph. Carl Edwards was third-fastest (175.206 mph), followed by last week’s winner Tony Stewart in P4 (175.159 mph) and one of Stewart’s teammates, Ryan Newman, in fifth (174.988 mph).

Defending race champion Joey Logano was 15th-quickest in the session. He’ll now head off to the 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway in order to qualify and race in tonight’s NASCAR Nationwide Series event there, then come back to Pocono for Sunday’s Cup race.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.