Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick glad to see boss, teammate and friend Tony Stewart back in race car

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HAMPTON, Ga. – Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch are fully in support of their boss, Tony Stewart, being back in a race car this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“It’s going to be great to have our boss and teammate in the field,” Busch told host Claire B. Lang Thursday night on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Dialed In. “To have him and the heavy hearts that’s been around Stewart Haas Racing the last few weeks, back at the track and focused on making laps, that’s the best medicine for everybody.

“… His name is on the company’s logo. He’s our leader and it’s great to have him back in the car.

While Busch and other teammate Kevin Harvick did not hear from Stewart during his three-week seclusion and absence from NASCAR, Patrick was one of the few that had a brief communication with Stewart.

“I heard from him last weekend, telling me good luck and it was good to hear from him,” Patrick said Friday morning. “It’ll be good to have him back. Obviously, he is the namesake to our team name. We’ll be all on board to help him with whatever he needs, but he’s Tony Stewart, so I’m sure he’ll be fine.

“Obviously with it being such a tragic accident, it’s something to work through.”

Busch compared some of the emotions Stewart is going through as to military veterans experiencing post-traumatic syndrome. Busch works extensively with veterans during his non-racing time.

But Busch said having Stewart back at the track will be a boost of support for the overall organization. He also addressed the possibility that Stewart is still eligible to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“We’re just trying to get the staff back to normalcy this weekend,” Stewart said. “I’m glad it’s happening and we’re able to move forward. With the Chase around the corner, it’s great for Harvick’s team, my team and Danica still has a chance.

“And Tony, I don’t know how it’s all going to shake out with the rule of not qualifying and being eligible, but sometimes you just have to go out there and take the medicine. I’m glad that Tony has decided that it’s time to get back in the car. He’s the only one who could have made that choice.”

Added Patrick, “Trying to feel something normal again probably might feel good to him. But again, it was a tragic accident and there’s no timeline when you work through that.”

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Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski