Kurt Busch confirms move to Stewart-Haas (UPDATED)

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Furniture Row Racing driver Kurt Busch has confirmed that he will move to Stewart-Haas Racing next year – which will create a four-car operation that features himself, team co-owner Tony Stewart, fellow newcomer Kevin Harvick, and Danica Patrick.

Jim Utter of The Charlotte Observer reports that an official announcement from SHR will be made tomorrow afternoon, and that sources say the team is seeking to claim the No. 00 for Busch.

“This is the kind of situation every driver wants to be in and I’m grateful to [SHR co-owner] Gene Haas and Haas Automation for providing me this opportunity,” Busch told Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press.

“Gene wants to win, and wants me to go out there and perform to the best of my abilities.”

Talk of Busch making a possible jump to Stewart-Haas had been almost constant since word broke out after the recent race at Michigan that the team had offered him a contract.

Now, after two years of competing with smaller operations on the Sprint Cup circuit following his release from Penske Racing at the end of 2011, it appears that Busch has earned another opportunity to race as part of a bigger squad with more resources.

He has been in the thick of the Chase battle this season with the single-car FRR team, and currently sits 12th in the championship, six points out of the Top-10 cutoff point with two “regular season” races remaining.

Last Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway, Busch indicated that while he was blocking outside distractions in order to focus on getting himself and FRR into the Chase, he was also pleased with having as much interest from other teams as he’s gotten this Silly Season.

“…To have the outside guys knocking on the door going, ‘Hey we want you to drive,’ – it’s a good confidence booster, to say the least,” said Busch, who finished 31st in Saturday’s Cup race following wheel hub issues.

FRR general manager Joe Garone said in a statement that the team made Busch an offer last week to stay with them “in 2014 and beyond,” but that they respected his ultimate decision.

“His driving skill and being a dedicated team player will always be appreciated at Furniture Row Racing,” Garone continued. “But for right now, the main focus for Kurt and the team is to qualify for the Chase and contend for the 2013 Sprint Cup Series championship.”

Busch’s move to SHR comes just days after Michael Waltrip Racing crew chief Rodney Childers announced that he too would join the team as Harvick’s next crew chief. On that note, USA Today’s Jeff Gluck is now reporting that Childers has been given an early release from MWR.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.