Sprint Cup Driver Review: Kurt Busch

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After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year.

Finishing 10th in the standings with the Colorado-based Furniture Row Racing was Kurt Busch…

KURT BUSCH
No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
2013 Stats: 10th Place, No Wins, 11 Top-5s, 16 Top-10s, 448 Laps Led
Average Start: 13.2
Average Finish: 14.7
DNFs: 2

Estrada Says: Following a 35th place finish at Michigan in June, Busch was 20th in the standings and nowhere near in contention for a post-season berth. Undaunted, he and FRR got on a major roll with eight Top-10s the final 11 regular season races and, more importantly, five in the last six to do what no single-car squad had ever done before: Make the Chase. The fact that they were able to accomplish that almost completely overshadows their late-season problems. After finishing fourth in the Chase opener at Chicagoland, the team began to go up-and-down (13th at New Hampshire, 21st at Dover, second at Kansas) before limping home with five finishes outside the Top-10 in the last six races. Busch is now at Stewart-Haas Racing, but both he and FRR proved themselves this year and they should both be better off for their time together.

DiZinno Says: I’m not sure whether Kurt Busch has “The Outlaw” on his business cards – or if he even has business cards – but “miracle worker” might be a good descriptor of his job title after his efforts with FRR in 2013. He was able to build on the final few races of 2012 when he had a chance to join the team after his stint at Phoenix Racing, and while he didn’t win this year, he helped single-handedly raise the performance and stature of the Denver-based team in the garage area. Regan Smith won the team’s first race a couple years ago, but Busch established FRR on the map this year and made it an attractive destination for others. A seriously impressive season that proved Busch’s elite talent and returns him to a championship-caliber team after two years in the relative wilderness.

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.