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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Latest INDYCAR Aeroscreen test continues to provide feedback; data to series

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo
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RICHMOND, Virginia – After completing its third Aeroscreen test since October 2, INDYCAR continues to collect valuable data and feedback from the drivers and engineers involved in testing.

The latest test of the Aeroscreen came Tuesday, October 15 at Richmond Raceway, a .750-mile short oval. Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon has been involved in testing dating all the way back to 2017 at Phoenix with the original “Windscreen.” Tuesday’s test was the first-time two-time NTT IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden was able to test the device that partially encloses the cockpit proving greatly enhanced driver safety.

It was also the first time the current “Aeroscreen” designed and created by Red Bull Advanced Technologies, Pankl and Dallara has been tested at a short oval – a track that measures under 1.5-miles in length.

The previous tests were at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 2 and the Barber Motorsports Park road course on October 7.

“It wasn’t a problem getting in the car today and relearning a new viewpoint,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com at the conclusion of Tuesday’s test. “It felt like a new viewpoint. It’s still an Indy car. It still feels like an Indy car. The car does a lot of the things it did before. It required some slight tuning differences to accommodate a different center of gravity and different total weight.

“Overall, it still felt like the same Indy car I drove three weeks ago. You get used to that new viewpoint within 30 or 40 laps. It was alien at first but halfway through the day it feels like home again.”

Newgarden’s Team Penske test team along with INDYCAR officials worked on changes to getting air into the cockpit and directing the air to the right place where the driver can utilize it.

“We’ve come up with some solutions that we like,” Newgarden said. “INDYCAR and the teams will continue to fine-tune this. That is why we are doing these tests. The main goal was to figure this out and fine-tune this stuff. We have come up with a lot of good solutions to all of the little things we have talked about that we have needed so when Sebastien Bourdais goes to Sebring (on November 5), it will just be another version.

“We are already close. Because they are such small details, it feels like normal racing stuff and we will come up with solutions for that.”

Some drivers who have participated in the Aeroscreen test has said, they almost feel naked without having the halo-like structure with a clear windshield protecting them on the race car.

“Once we got through a whole IndyCar season, if you took it off, it would feel really strange,” Newgarden said. “People adapt so quickly to a change, what the car looks like. Once you give us a couple of races and a full year, it will feel like home and something we are very used to as drivers.

“It is already starting to get that way. People are feeling more comfortable with it. The field of view is almost identical to the way it was before. Your peripheral vision is identical, the way you look out the front of the cars is identical, the way you see the tires is identical.”

Individual driver preference will allow for shading of the sun and that can be accomplished with the visor strips on the helmet and the tear-offs on Aeroscreen.

Drivers will also have a bit of a quieter atmosphere inside the cockpit. The partial enclosure makes it easier to hear his radio communication and the sounds of the engine in the driver’s car. It partially blocks out the sounds of the engines in the other cars and the rush of wind traveling at high speeds that used to buffet in and around the helmet.

“It has changed the noise level slightly inside the cockpit,” Newgarden said. “For me, it wasn’t super dramatic. It’s a slight reduction in wind noise. You’re not getting the wind directly over your head as dramatically as you would before. All that external noise has just been dimmed.

“You can hear the radio a touch better, things like that. But the engine noise is still quite prominent. It’s bolted directly behind us, so you still hear quite a bit of what’s going on in the car and the engine.”

Dixon was in the car at Indianapolis on October 2 and returned on Tuesday. The Barber test on October 7 included this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud, in a Team Penske Chevrolet and Ryan Hunter-Reay in an Andretti Autosport Honda.

“The only differences are the openings on the front wing that creates some more airflow around the legs and body and a different inlet in the screen that was in place today,” Dixon told NBC Sports.com. “There were helmet cooling options since the Barber test because on the road course, some of the drivers were getting a little hotter.

“This project has been very in-depth. It hit the ground running very smoothly. There are some alternate options they are trying to create, especially on the street courses where we will experience hot condition. On street conditions, your depth perception changes because of how close you are to the walls, but we should get used to that.”

Two weeks ago, Team Penske driver Will Power said it takes a different style to get out of the race car because of the added height of the Aeroscreen.

That hasn’t been a problem for Dixon.

“That’s easy, man,” he said. “Just go through the hole in the top.”