Replacing Busch brothers will be tall task for their teams


The decision by NASCAR to indefinitely suspend Kurt Busch over domestic violence allegations and the subsequent horrible accident that left Kyle Busch with a broken right leg and a broke left foot, leaves two of the best teams in Sprint Cup without their drivers.

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Kurt Busch, if charges that he smashed ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll’s head against the wall of his motorhome at Dover International Speedway last September are proven, may never be back in NASCAR at any level, let alone in a top ride like he has in the No. 41 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet.

The injuries sustained by Kyle Busch during the Xfinity Series at Daytona last Saturday are now being viewed as possibly season-ending for the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Kyle Busch was flown to Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday for further treatment and possibly more surgery to repair his two fractures.

With the real regular season about to start this week at Atlanta Motor Speedway, both SHR and Gibbs have important decisions to make.

SHR has already slotted Regan Smith into the No. 41 team for Atlanta, as they did at Daytona in the 500 where he comported himself well, notching a 16th-place finish.

Still, the team has not yet made plans beyond next Sunday.

The likelihood is that Smith — who has tons of experience in Cup cars — will continue as the substitute of choice for SHR.

Over at Gibbs, it is a bit more complicated.

That team has 18-year-old Erik Jones under contract as a development driver and he is scheduled to run the entire NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this seasons for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

He has shown he has the potential to be a future superstar with four victories, two pole positions and eight top-five finishes in the NCWTS driving the KBM truck.

He is also slotted to drive in 10 Xfinity Series races this season in a Gibbs Toyota.

However, Jones has limited — as in none — experience in the bigger, faster Sprint Cup cars.

Another candidate to take over the No. 18 Toyota is David Ragan, at least according to several reports out of Charlotte on Tuesday.

Problem here is that Ragan already has a Sprint Cup job driving the Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford.

He finished 17th on Sunday in the Daytona 500 in that car and he has two victories in Cup, at Daytona in 2011 for Roush Fenway Racing and at Talladega in 2013 with the No. 34 team.

An opportunity to jump to the much more high-profile No. 18 Toyota, however, would be hard to turn down and Gibbs would have to make a deal with Front Row owner Bob Jenkins to allow for that to happen.

In any event, the No. 41 and the No. 18 teams face big challenges.


On the positive side of the Kyle Busch head-on crash into a wall at Daytona International Speedway, if there can by any, is that several NASCAR tracks have announced new initiatives to have the SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barriers installed on all of their exposed walls.

The area at DIS where Busch hit was not covered with a SAFER barrier.

Talladega SuperSpeedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway all began work this week to fix their tracks.

“With what happened to Kyle Busch, it ratcheted up the urgency,” Kentucky Speedway general manager Mark Simendinger said. “Sometimes you have to see what can possibly happen before you realize that you’ve got a problem that needs to be corrected.”


To say it has been a good month for Doug Yates and his Roush Yates Engine team would be a huge understatement. The engine-building guru produced the powerplants for every one of the winning teams at Daytona International Speedway, starting with the Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoTech Daytona Prototype that won the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, the Brad Keselowski Racing Ford F150 that won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Next Era Energy Resources 250, the Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Ford Mustang that won the Xfinity Annual Alert Today Florida 300 and the Team Penske No. 22 Ford that won the Sprint Cup Daytona 500.


It appears that the concussion two-time world champion Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso suffered on Sunday is more serious than originally reported.

Alonso lost control of his McLaren Honda during the final day of testing and hit the wall in Turn 3 at Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.

He was airlifted to a Barcelona hospital and he remains there three days later.

The McLaren team issued an update, saying Alonso is not likley to be recovered enough to take part in the final pre-season test on Thursday back at Catalunya, but is otherwise in good shape.

“A thorough and complete analysis of his condition was performed, involving CT scans and MRI scans, all of which were completely normal,” the team statement said.

“In order to provide the privacy and tranquillity required to facilitate a peaceful recuperation, he is being kept in hospital for further observation and to recover from the effects of the medication that successfully managed his routine sedation.”

The team said it would decide soon if Alonso was fit enough to get back in the car this week.

McLaren also explained how the crash happened.

“His car ran wide at the entry to Turn 3 — which is a fast uphill right-hander — allowing it to run onto the Astroturf that lines the outside of the track,” the team said.

“A consequent loss of traction caused a degree of instability, spitting it back towards the inside of the circuit, where it regained traction and struck the wall side-on.

“Our findings indicate that the accident was caused by the unpredictably gusty winds at that part of the circuit at that time.

“We can categorically state that there is no evidence that indicates that Fernando’s car suffered mechanical failure of any kind.”


Joey Logano won the Daytona 500 on Sunday, but he came close to losing points with his wife Brittany.

On their honeymoon in December, Logano lost his wedding ring.

On Sunday talking about the flashy ring he just received for winning at Daytona, Logano cracked that he would take better care of that ring.

“This one is harder to replace,” he said.

Realizing his mistake Logano looked over at his new wife and said: “What I meant was that she is still here with me and the ring is just a symbol. She would be impossible to replace.”

Nice save.


Now that the Daytona 500 is in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look ahead for what is really the start of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season.

In the weeks and months that lead up to Daytona, teams and drivers are pretty much fully immersed in that race, paying scant attention to what happens after that.

It is a product of having your most important and most watched event kick off your season.

No other form of professional sport does this — imagine starting of the National Hockey League season with the Stanley Cup final.

It doesn’t make sense, but yet it somehow works for NASCAR.

Year after year, NASCAR gets its highest television ratings with the Daytona 500, so there is no changing the format.

The No. 22 Ford that Team Penske built to race and win at Daytona is packed away at that track’s museum, not to be seen again this season.

In fact, not a single car that raced in the Daytona 500 will be at Atlanta Motor Speedway this week.

So when cars line up this Sunday, you can bet that you will see a much clearer picture of how the 2015 season will play out.


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