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NASCAR’s Kurt Busch to attend Baku F1 race to watch Haas F1 Team

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Kurt Busch will have his first taste of a Grand Prix weekend watching his NASCAR team owner’s, Gene Haas, Haas F1 Team Formula 1 operation next week at the European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan.

It’s a rare off weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and the 2004 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 rookie-of-the-year will spend it – naturally – at a race track.

Busch confirmed this would happen during his media availability at Michigan International Speedway on Friday morning.

“Next week, we have an off-week from our NASCAR circuit and I’m headed over to the Middle East to watch our Formula 1 team at Baku, (Azerbaijan),” Busch told assembled reporters at his morning availability.

“I can’t wait to hang out with (Romain) Grosjean and (Esteban) Gutierrez and have the opportunity to sit next to a Formula 1 driver and see his tools that he uses; whether it’s simulation, whether it’s mapping. I’m hoping that I can discover things that I’ll be able to ask Gene. ‘Hey Gene, why don’t we have that? Let’s bring that back over to the North Carolina side and use it for the Sprint Cup teams.’

For Busch, who got on the win scoreboard earlier this week at Pocono Raceway, it’ll be a chance to see how the F1 world works at a track where no one has an advantage. The Baku race is new to the F1 schedule and will put everyone on level footing.

“It’s just an exciting time for Gene, all the way around, with the success that he had early on in F1,” Busch said.

“But now to settle-in as the season is going on and for us to deliver a win, it’s really a neat time with Gene Haas. He’s having a lot of fun in motorsports and he’s pushing harder and harder and harder.

“And I hope that there is something that I can bring back and cross-pollenate with our Sprint Cup team from the F1.”

IndyCar will eliminate double points from the 2020 season finale

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Though the NTT IndyCar Series hasn’t confirmed the date of its 2020 season finale, it has determined that double points won’t be in play.

An IndyCar official confirmed Monday to NBCSports.com that whether the season ends at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, or on the streets of St. Petersburg, neither race will feature double points. Team owners were informed of the change during a conference call last week.

The news was first reported by RACER.com.

With the original 17-race schedule having been shortened by the cancellation of at least three races (Circuit of The Americas, Barber Motorsports Park, the Long Beach Grand Prix), using double points in the finale would have carried even greater weight (and perhaps more so if more races are unable to be run because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has been using double points at select races since the 2015 season. The 104th Indianapolis 500 will remain a double-points event.

In rescheduling the Indy 500 to Aug. 23 last week, IndyCar unveiled a revised schedule that listed Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as TBD for its season finale. The race originally had been scheduled to open the season before being called off because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

IndyCar CEO Mark Miles told reporters last week that St. Pete probably would be slotted into the first two weeks October after the Sept. 20 race at Laguna Seca that had been slated to be the season finale for the second consecutive year.