Kurt Busch 25th in Sprint Cup points — IndyCar, too

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The folks on Reddit.com have quickly become big NASCAR fans, thanks to their support earlier this season of Josh Wise at Talladega Superspeedway.

As a result, we like to periodically check the different forums at Reddit to see what’s going on and what folks are talking about.

And what we found Wednesday definitely opened our eyes.

We all know that back in May, Kurt Busch became the first driver in a decade to do “the double” – racing in both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day.

And we also know that the elder Busch brother is a full-time Sprint Cup driver.

But did you know – and thanks to the folks at Reddit.com for pointing this out – that Busch is TIED in the same place in the IndyCar driver standings with where he is on the Cup circuit?

After 19 races and heading into this weekend’s Brickyard 400 back again at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Busch is scored 25th in the Sprint Cup Series, 230 points behind leader Jeff Gordon. Busch has one win and just four top-10 finishes (all in the top-five, for the record). (To be fair, Busch is ranked 11th in the Chase-eligible standings.)

And in the IndyCar Series and based on his sixth-place finish at Indy, Busch is also 25th in the standings – even though he has competed in just the Indy 500 thus far (his only start in the first 14 races thus far, and what will likely be his only start this season).

Yep, that’s right. You can check it out, as they say, if you don’t believe us. (Some Reddit posters actually have Busch in 24th in the IndyCar standings, but we’re going with the official points rankings from both series as our baseline — and they both say he’s in 25th.)

What does all that mean in the whole big scheme of things?

Other than being a statistical quirk, probably not much.

But then again, if Busch can rank 25th in the IndyCar series and just have one start, it shows he’s doing better overall in IndyCar this season than Sprint Cup.

Check out the standings below to see the statistical quirk:

http://scores.nbcsports.msnbc.com/racing/index.asp?page=standings&cat=&series=NASCAR

http://scores.nbcsports.msnbc.com/racing/index.asp?page=standings&cat=&series=IRL

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Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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