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Kyle Busch Ponders, Nixes Indy 500 Run

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 15 2016
Kyle Busch said he would love to drive in the Indy 500 but it won't happen this year. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

Kyle Busch said he would love to drive in the Indy 500 but it won’t happen this year. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kyle Busch would like to add his name to the Indianapolis 500 roster, but the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway that it wouldn’t occur this year.

Color nascar logoDetails would need to be worked out, but he said convincing team owner Joe Gibbs to allow him to do it probably would be the most difficult piece of the puzzle. He also admitted his wife, Samantha, wasn’t thrilled with the idea.

“Samantha is not necessarily a fan of it and I’ve talked to her about it a little bit and she’s just like, ‘I’ll be there when the time comes, but don’t tell me,’” Busch said.

He said his sponsors had “actually shown some interest” in him competing in the Memorial Day classic.

“That was kind of fun for me to hear that there might actually be an opportunity there if I continue my relationship with them from the Cup side to the IndyCar side,” Busch said. “We have to work out all those details and it’s certainly not going to happen for this year, but maybe in some future years we’ll see what we can put together.”  

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ben Kennedy announced Friday he and Red Horse Racing have separated.

Kennedy competed in this season’s first three truck races with the Mooresville, N.C.-based team with his best finish being 11th at Martinsville. During the past two seasons with RHR, Kennedy has produced four top-five and eight top-10 finishes. He also earned the pole at Atlanta in 2015.

“I’m interested in pursuing other racing opportunities in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and possibly the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” Kennedy said in a prepared statement.

Kennedy is the grandson of former NASCAR president Bill France Jr. and the great grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.  

Drivers familiar with heat racing are relishing this year’s Dash 4 Cash format that kicks off Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway, but for others it brings concern as the potential to have a less than perfect car for the main event is a reality.

Under this year’s format, qualifying sets the field for two 50-lap heat races. The order of finish in the heat races sets the starting lineup for the 200-lap Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300. The top two NASCAR Xfinity Series regulars from each heat race are eligible for the $100,000 bonus that goes to the highest finishing driver among those four. Any driver winning two of the four Dash 4 Cash bonuses automatically qualifies for the Chase, which is being used in the Xfinity Series for the first time this season.

“I haven’t run a heat race in probably four or five years, so I’m really excited to kind of get back to that and get back to the roots a little bit,” Ryan Reed said Friday. “Bristol is a tough track regardless and then you throw in heat races and give us one more opportunity to go out there and tear up the car before the end of the race is gonna be challenging.

“We talked a lot about it this week and it’s really interesting because, obviously, you want to be able to start the main event with a clean race car, but then also, too, if you’re in a position to qualify for the Dash 4 Cash you’re gonna want to get aggressive and do that.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch, who’s competing in Saturday’s Xfinity race, believes Bristol is a good place to unveil the new Dash 4 Cash format.

“Obviously, racing Late Models over the years and being at short tracks, I’m used to the heat races and things, but I think the format is just a little different from what I’m accustomed to with the races and what they mean at the other race tracks or those other series.”

Kyle Busch said Friday he didn’t believe Darrell Waltrip’s record of seven consecutive victories at Bristol Motor Speedway would ever be equaled or broken.

Waltrip won those seven races from 1981-1984 while driving for legendary team owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson.

“I think the way the sport was then is certainly different than the way the sport is now,” Busch said during preparations for Sunday’s Food City 500. “When you hit on something back in that day you might have been able to keep it at that particular race track for a lot longer than you can now. The way that tech goes and the way you have to tear down your car here at the race track and having people looking at it from not very far away, they can see what you’re doing and then, again, they go to the tech center and they pull apart the shocks and they pull apart the bump stops and they basically give everybody else what you’re doing. It’s not all that secretive on the things that these guys are doing these days.”

Busch noted it was nice to reminisce about those days in racing, but he questioned the competitiveness that existed in the 1970s and ‘80s.

“You look at some of the results and there’s eight cars that finish and the second-place car is three laps down,” Bush said. “Is that really what would be exciting these days? I don’t think so.”

Joe Gibbs Racing’s entries in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series are running so well that Carl Edwards said he had thought about driving one of them, but then noted there would have to be special circumstances for him to return to the series where he spent seven years.

“It would really be to run at specific tracks that I love,” Edwards said. “The road courses in the Xfinity Series are really fun and I’d consider running those. If there were new tracks that they were going to, maybe places I hadn’t run.

“For right now, I feel like Cup cars and Xfinity cars are so different and I’m learning (crew chief) Dave Rogers and my new team still enough that I need to focus on the Cup car. I haven’t seen an opportunity that I want to be pulled away from the Cup car for.”

Brothers Austin and Ty Dillon said Friday they talk during a weekend in an effort to help one another, but they still want to beat each other.

“We both want to do well and we both want to push each other to be the best,” Ty Dillon said. “We want to compete against each other for wins because that is the ultimate goal. I have been learning a lot from Austin in these Cup races that I have been running. But, again, the ultimate goal is to be racing for wins against each other and if it comes down to that we will both be happy.”

Austin Dillon notes that each weekend their grandfather, Richard Childress, stands with the grandson that is the highest qualifier.

“We have had fun doing that and I always nudge a little bit with Ty to see who can out-qualify the other,” Austin said.  

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s banana and mayonnaise sandwiches are being sold this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway with the money going to charity. Earnhardt Jr. said Friday donations can still be made at DaleJrSandwich.com and $45,000 had already been raised from the fans.

 “We got an additional $50,000 from Hellmann’s and myself, so that is $145,000 to Blessings in a Backpack,” Earnhardt Jr. said.  “It’s awesome that tracks are participating and anyone donating however they want to donate.

“I guess it’s important to say the whole thing was completely organic.  I was sitting there bored with a little time on my hands between taking some pictures at a Hellmann’s photo shoot and they always have me make this sandwich at the photo shoots.  It was laying there; it was a prop they were sort of preparing for a picture.  I took a picture of it and tweeted it. I had no idea that was going to take off like it did. 

“The thing is like 25 percent of the country knew exactly what I was talking about and the rest were completely disgusted.  I think the disgust really is what drove the Tweet viral. The response from the fans as far as donations has been amazing.”  

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 15 2016
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