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 Lights: Askew clinches 2019 title while VeeKay wins Laguna Seca race 1

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MONTEREY, Calif – Rinus VeeKay may have won the first race of the weekend’s Indy Lights doubleheader at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Saturday afternoon, but all all eyes post-race were all on the driver who finished the race in the fourth position.

That driver was Oliver Askew, who by simply starting the 30-lap event at the famed road course won the 2019 series title, along with the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series scholarship that guarantees a minimum of three races next season.

“It’s all sinking in,” Askew told NBC Sports following the race. “I’m really happy to be part of this team. They’re back to back champions now in Indy Lights, and I feel very fortunate to be driving in this car this year.

“This is what we worked for all year. I’m very happy to be in this position and I can’t wait to celebrate with my team.”

With the championship in Askew’s possession from the get-go, the best VeeKay could do for in race 1 was to win in dominant fashion. He went on to do just so.

After starting the race from the pole position, VeeKay led every lap from start to finish en route to his fifth victory of the season.

“We managed the car well and kept the car consistent throughout the whole race,” VeeKay said. “I got a great car from the team so I want to give a big shout out to them for giving me a winning car.”

Behind VeeKay, Portland race 2 winner Toby Sowery finished the race in the second position, while Robert Megennis finished third.

Live streaming coverage of race two of the Indy Lights doubleheader at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca begins tomorrow afternoon at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold.

Click here for full race results

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