For Kyle Busch, NHL is a lot like NASCAR: Instigating, fighting, knocking an opponent into the boards

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Comparing NASCAR and hockey might seem a stretch, but Kyle Busch and Arizona Coyotes’ captain Shane Doan did their part Thursday to bring the two sports together.

And you know what? There really may be a lot more in common between the two than you might think. (We’ll get back to that in a moment.)

Four days after the Super Bowl played out across the street at University of Phoenix Stadium, Busch stopped by the Gila River Arena, where the Coyotes play home games in the NHL.

Busch was in the Phoenix area promoting the upcoming Sprint Cup season-opening Daytona 500 as well as the March 15 CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Admittedly, Busch – who traded Doan a M&Ms racing jacket for a Coyotes jersey with Busch’s name and car number (18) on the back – isn’t much of a NHL fan.

“I have to admit, I’m not a hockey guy, but I am a fan of all sports,” Busch said, according to AzCentral.com. “Wayne Gretzky, that’s sort of a name I’m familiar with.

“Past that, I guess just knowing the Blackhawks won a few championships in the last few years because I’m a Chicago sports fan and because my family is from there.”

Busch and Doan, who is a casual NASCAR fan, hit it off so much that Busch hung around to watch the game vs. the Carolina Hurricanes.

And wouldn’t you know it but No. 18 on the Coyotes, forward David Moss, scored the game-tying goal that eventually sent the match into a shootout, which the Coyotes lost 2-1.

Okay, now let’s get to the comparisons between the two sports:

* Much like he’s done at times in his NASCAR career, “Rowdy” (Busch’s nickname) would fit very well on a hockey rink as an instigator. Actually, that could be a great new nickname: Kyle “The Instigator” Busch.

* Just like defensemen protect their forwards and goalie, Busch has the back of his teammates, Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth, on the racetrack.

* While you may not think of it at first, there’s a definite synergy between a hockey player putting an opponent into the boards and a NASCAR driver putting a rival into the wall.

* And let’s not forget the fighting aspect of both sports.

“You can definitely put guys in the wall if you want to,” Busch said with a laugh. “And you will fight afterwards, that’s for sure. There’s maybe not as many checks in NASCAR as you see in hockey, but it’s still fun.”

As physical as NASCAR racing may be at times, Busch wouldn’t want to change spots with Doan, who nonetheless insists NASCAR is more physical than hockey.

“No, no, he’s crazy,” Busch said of Doan’s perception. “Those guys (hockey players), man, they’re fighting hard out there. … I definitely would never be able to go out on the ice and skate and beat up against all these guys as hard as they do.”

But Doan definitely had the last word in which sport is tougher.

“Oh, our stress levels aren’t even remotely close to what they have to deal with,” Doan said of NASCAR drivers. “We make a mistake, we might get knocked out. They make a mistake, they might die.”

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Indy 500 qualifying: Today’s schedule, TV times, how the 33-car field is set

Indy 500 qualifying schedule
Doug Mathews/IndyCar
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The 33-car field of the 104th Indianapolis 500 will be set through the two-day Indy 500 qualifying schedule Saturday and Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Today’s session will determine the nine cars that will compete for the pole position and starting positions 10-30.

On Sunday, the pole position then will be determined in a Fast Nine Shootout (the top nine qualifiers also received NTT IndyCar Series points).

All on-track activity will be on NBC Sports Gold’s IndyCar pass (click here for streaming Saturday and here for Sunday), and Indy 500 qualifying will be on NBC from 3-5 p.m. ET Saturday and Indy 500 pole qualifying from 1-3 p.m. ET on NBC.

Last year, Simon Pagenaud captured the pole position on the way to winning last year’s Indy 500.

Qualifying speeds at Indianapolis Motor Speedway are determined by a four-lap average around the 2.5-mile track.

Here is the Indy 500 qualifying schedule and how to watch on TV:

Saturday, Aug. 15

5:30 a.m. – Garage opens

6 a.m. – Tech inspection

8:30-9:30 a.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBC Sports Gold)

11 a.m.-5 p.m. – Indianapolis 500 qualifying (NBC Sports Gold; NBC coverage from 3-5 p.m.; NBCSN 5-6 p.m.)

7:30 p.m. – Garage closes

Sunday, Aug. 16

8 a.m. – Garage opens

9 a.m. — Tech inspection

11-11:30 a.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBC Sports Gold)

1:15-2:15 p.m. – Fast Nine pole qualifying (NBC begins at 1 p.m., NBC Sports Gold)

3:30-6 p.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold)