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Busch Brothers Get Lesson In Global Party System

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 24 2017

Brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch flank Germany’s Sebastian Vettel on the podium at the Race of Champions. The Busch brothers finished second in the event, held in Miami over the weekend.

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch said Tuesday they enjoyed the international competition in the Race of Champions, but the European drivers’ ability to party at night and then race the next day left them scratching their heads.

 “It’s a chaotic, frat house feel,” Kurt Busch said about the event that was first organized in 1988 by former rally driver Michele Mouton and International Media Productions president Fredrik Johnsson.

There are guys like David Coulthard, who I think they are machines because they shouldn’t be allowed to race that fast and party that hard in the same 24 hours. Those Europeans know how to do a lot of good things in race cars, but they’re pretty good at staying up late as well. At night everybody is up until 2 a.m. having a good time and you go back to the track the next afternoon, shake off the cobwebs and then you’re out there competing against the world’s best.”

Kyle said there was “no way” he could party as hard as the Europeans.

“Those guys certainly know how to run hard,” said Kyle, who’s battling a sinus infection. “Saturday night we all had a little get together and I was out by 11. My eyes were closing themselves.”

This year’s Race of Champions was held Saturday and Sunday at Miami’s Marlins Park. Juan Pablo Montoya won the event, while Team Germany’s former Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel defeated Team USA NASCAR Kyle and Kurt Busch for the ROC Nations Cup.  

Originally a competition between the world’s best rally drivers, the Race of Champions is now open to Formula One, World Rally Championship, IndyCar, NASCAR, sports cars and touring cars stars. The Nations Cup was added in 1999 and consists of two-driver teams that compete for their country. The first-ever Ryder Cup-style America vs. The World went to the wire this year before Petter Solberg defeated Scott Speed in a sudden-death decision.

“The Race of Champions is very unique and it’s a lot of fun,” Kurt said. “It reminds me of when the top 16 drivers in our playoffs get locked in and we go do media appearances together or we’re doing a dinner or a function.”

Kurt said James Hinchcliffe defeated him by a fraction of a second in his first race Sunday. That’s when the elder Busch decided to change his approach and treat each race as if it was a green-white-checker situation. That’s when he started winning.

 “I was able to get on the other side of the second bracket that I needed to get in and then Kyle was winning as well,” Kurt said. “He was beating guys like Jenson Button and Felipe Massa, and the next thing you know we advanced as the NASCAR group as brothers and represented the USA in the finals against Vettel.  That was an incredible feeling.” 

Kyle equated the environment to a “locker room setting” off the track, but then when you began racing “all they wanted to do was cut your throat.”

“It was fun because you got into all of these different vehicles at different times,” Kyle said. “The tires were cold, the brakes were cold; they were putting different fans in the cars to ride with you. It could be a 120-pound girl or it could be a 250-pound guy. You just didn’t know what was coming next.”

Kurt said it was funny Sunday because it seemed like everyone kept getting their car in the wrong gear as they left the staging area.

“Scott Speed literally drove through (Helio) Castroneves in the staging area and wrecked two cars,” Kurt said. “My little brother thought he was in first gear. He was in fast reverse and he backed into another car.”

Kyle noted, “I didn’t run over anybody. Scott Speed ran over somebody – almost.”  

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 24 2017
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