Kyle Busch leads field in first of two Friday Nationwide practices at Bristol

0 Comments

Thus far Friday, it’s been a Busch brothers beatdown at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kurt Busch was the fastest in Friday’s solo Sprint Cup practice session.

And in the first of two Nationwide Series practice sessions this afternoon, Kyle Busch picked up where older brother Kurt left off, leading all 39 drivers that took part in practice.

Busch’s Toyota Camry covered the .533-mile high-banked track at 123.079 mph, followed by three other Sprint Cup regulars: Matt Kenseth (122.318), Kyle Larson (122.007) and Kevin Harvick (121.798).

The fastest and first true Nationwide competitor was Cale Conley, who got around BMS at 121.582 mph.

Needing to really pick up speed was the slowest driver out there, Ryan Sieg, whose best lap was a mere 98.415 mph.

See how your driver did in the first practice chart below:

1 Kyle Busch 123.079 mph

2 Matt Kenseth 122.318

3 Kyle Larson 122.007

4 Kevin Harvick 121.798

5 Cale Conley 121.582

 

6 Chase Elliott 121.558

7 Brian Scott 121.451

8 James Buescher 121.389

9 Ty Dillon 121.228

10 Regan Smith 121.221

 

11 Ryan Blaney 121.205

12 Trevor Bayne 121.198

13 Elliott Sadler 120.626

14 Mike Bliss 120.422

15 Brendan Gaughan 120.068

 

16 Chris Buescher 119.985

17 Landon Cassill 119.72

18 Matt DiBenedetto 119.611

19 Dylan Kwasniewski 119.522

20 Jeffrey Earnhardt 119.254

 

21 Ryan Reed 119.239

22 Kevin LePage 119.151

23 Will Kimmell III 119.010

24 Joe Nemechek 118.833

25 Mike Wallace 118.503

 

26 Josh Wise 118.466

27 Carl Long 118.452

28 Jeremy Clements 117.805

29 Jamie Dick 117.617

30 Kelly Admiraal 117.559

 

31 Timmy Hill 117.387

32 Tanner Berryhill 117.121

33 Dakoda Armstrong 116.993

34 Blake Koch 116.957

35 Derrike Cope 115.947

 

36 Matt Carter 115.611

37 Joey Gase 114.555

38 Eric McClure 108.850

39 Ryan Sieg 98.415

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images
2 Comments

Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”