Kyle Busch records fourth-fastest qualifying speed in Nationwide history, takes pole at Michigan

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Kyle Busch waited until the last minute and needed just one lap to earn the pole for Saturday’s Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Michigan International Speedway.

Busch recorded the fourth-fastest qualifying speed in NNS history, covering the two-mile, high-speed MIS surface with a track record at 193.242 mph (at 37.259 seconds).

It was Busch’s first NNS pole at Michigan.

“Just being a little bit further back in line helped out a little bit, but we have a fast race car and were able to hold the pedal down much of the way around,” Busch said. “Being able to do all that, putting it all together, just worked in our favor.”

Chase Elliott was second-fastest at 192.735 mph, followed by Ty Dillon (192.513), Kyle Larson (192.287) and Paul Menard (192.195).

Sixth through 12th-fastest were Brian Scott (192.041), Dylan Kwasniewski (191.857), Regan Smith (191.505), Joey Logano (191.123), Chris Buescher (184.895), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (158.541) and Elliott Sadler.

Sadler did not record a speed in the third and final round of knockout qualifying because his Toyota Camry brushed the outside retaining wall while making his attempt.

Here’s the starting lineup for Saturday’s Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 250 at Michigan International Speedway:

Row 1 Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott

Row 2 Ty Dillon, Kyle Larson

Row 3 Paul Menard, Brian Scott

Row 4 Dylan Kwasniewski, Regan Smith

Row 5 Joey Logano, Chris Buescher

Row 6 Dale Earnhardt Jr., Elliot Sadler

Row 7 Sam Hornish Jr., Trevor Bayne

Row 8 Ryan Sieg, Brendan Gaughan

Row 9 Ross Chastain, Dakoda Armstrong

Row 10 Mike Bliss, JJ Yeley

Row 11 James Buescher, Blake Koch

Row 12 Jamie Dick, Ryan Reed

Row 13 Josh Wise, Landon Cassill

Row 14 Jeff Green, Jeremy Clements

Row 15 Jeffrey Earnhardt, Mike Harmon

Row 16 Carl Long, Kevin Lepage

Row 17 Matt Carter, Tanner Berryhill

Row 18 Derrike Cope, Benny Gordon

Row 19 Ryan Ellis, Harrison Rhodes

Row 20 Tim Schendel, Tommy Joe Martins

DNQ: Matt DiBenedetto, Morgan Schepherd

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Column: Contrasting Michael Schumacher’s and Robert Wickens’ situations

(Photo: Tony Gentile / Reuters)
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As much of the world looks forward to Christmas and New Years Day in the next few weeks, a dark anniversary is also on the near horizon.

It’s hard to believe that December 29 will mark five years since seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher was critically injured in a skiing accident, suffering a traumatic brain injury.

Schumacher and his family were on holiday in the French Alps when he fell and struck his head on a boulder. The impact was so severe that it cracked the helmet he was wearing straight through.

One can only imagine the damage the impact did to Schumacher’s skull and brain.

While chronologically the accident occurred a half-decade ago, for many of “Schu’s” most ardent fans, it seems like it was just yesterday when the earth-shattering news broke.

In the following days and weeks after his accident, Schumacher was placed in a medically induced coma, as well as had at least two surgeries on his brain.

Since then the world has waited for news about the racing legend’s condition, only to receive very little in terms of updates over the subsequent five years.

That’s the way his family wants it, having repeatedly requested privacy when it comes to details about Michael’s condition. That request for privacy should be respected.

Schumacher’s wife, Corrina, issued a rare statement late last month that didn’t really say much about her husband’s condition or recovery, but she did thank fans and well-wishers for their continued prayers and concern about her husband, adding, “We all know Michael is a fighter and will not give up.”

In the meantime, Schumacher’s fans have been able to stay somewhat close to his legacy by watching as his 19-year-old son, Mick, has showed significant achievement in his own budding racing career.

So much so that rumors have already popped up that the younger Schu may soon follow in his father’s F1 footsteps, perhaps as early as 2020.

That, of course, remains to be seen.

What makes the Schumacher situation so difficult for many to still understand is how, while enjoying a simple skiing excursion with his family, he suffered a life-changing accident while having survived some wicked crashes during his racing career that barely affected him.

We still don’t know if Schumacher can walk, talk, is conscious and lucid or not – and many of his fans have already accepted that we may never, ever know any of those details. But if that’s the way he and/or his family want it, again, then we need to respect their wishes.

At the same time, there’s another race car driver who suffered a horrendous injury at Pocono Raceway this past August, namely IndyCar driver Robert Wickens.

Wickens suffered a devastating spinal cord injury that has left him a paraplegic – although there remains a great deal of hope that he will one day walk again.

While both suffered serious injuries, there’s a significant contrast between Schumacher and Wickens. The former (or his family) is keeping all details about his condition private, while the latter keeps his fans and supporters regularly updated on social media on how he’s doing.

That includes Wickens posting a number of videos, including some rather humorous ones where he has a mischievous look in his eyes or a good-natured smirk on his face — like bringing in a Christmas tree to his rehab facility, or “racing” teammate James Hinchcliffe in wheelchairs in a Days of Thunder homage of sorts.

Watching each new Wickens video or reading his most recent online messages, it’s very clear that expressing himself and reaching out to the world is indeed good therapy and medicine of sorts for the Canadian driver.

He needs those social media posts and videos as much as we need them from him.

And it also helps fans better understand where Wickens is at in his recovery and rehab.

If Schumacher or his family wish to still remain private about his condition, we must respect that. But perhaps they could see the good will and good tidings that Wickens’ videos and posts offer. They’re as good for Wickens’ own well-being as they are for his fans — and they could be equally as good for Schumacher, his family and his fans.

Follow @JerryBonkowski