Paul Menard, Landon Cassill and Parker Kligerman will start from back at Bristol

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When Sunday’s scheduled Food City 500 finally gets underway, the starting grid will be slightly different than what was determined in qualifying.

Landon Cassill’s team tried to repair the damage sustained on his Chevrolet when he hit the wall during Saturday’s final Happy Hour practice.

But the damage was too severe on Cassill’s Circle Sport Chevrolet to be fixed in time, so the team has gone to a backup car, sending Cassill to the back of the starting grid for the race – whenever it is run.

It’s been a rough start to the 2014 season for the Cedar Rapids, Iowa native.

Cassill, who originally qualified 31st for the Bristol race, had a great run in the season-opening Daytona 500, qualifying 18th and finishing 12th in the Great American Race.

But he failed to qualify in the last two Sprint Cup races at Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Things have been a bit better in the Nationwide Series, which is Cassill’s designated full-time series in 2014. After finishing 21st at Daytona, he’s been 19th at Phoenix and Las Vegas and was a season-best 12th in Saturday’s Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol.

That top-15 Bristol showing moved Cassill up in the NNS standings to 10th, 75 points behind series leader Regan Smith.

Paul Menard, still in wait for the birth of his and his wife’s first child, will also start at the back of the field due to an engine change in his No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

Coming into Bristol 18th in the Sprint Cup standings, Menard got off to a rough start with a 32nd-place finish at Daytona and 23rd at Phoenix, but had a very impressive third-place finish last week at Las Vegas.

Also going to the back of the Bristol starting grid due to an engine change is rookie Parker Kligerman, who arguably has had the worst luck of any driver in Sprint Cup thus far this season.

Driving the Swan Racing Toyota, Kligerman recorded DNFs at Daytona (29th) and Phoenix (42nd). And while he didn’t earn a third DNF at Las Vegas, he finished 40th, 27 laps off the lead lap.

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Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”