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Fuel & Tires: NASCAR at Indy, Kyle Busch and IndyCar's new “rule”

By Dave von Falkenstein
July 23, 2015

Along with the racing action this weekend, let's see what else is going on in the world of auto racing this week.

NASCAR in Indianapolis

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series hits Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend for the Brickyard 400. Defending race winner Jeff Gordon is looking for his sixth win at the track in what will be his last start here before he retires at the end of the season.

At a track synonymous with IndyCars, Indianapolis is generally not an overly exciting race for the tin tops. With a new aerodynamic package for the race that will produce higher drag, there may be more excitement than in years past.

This is the 21st year that the Sprint Cup Series has raced at the Brickyard and the fourth year at the track for the Xfinity Series.

Kyle Busch on a tear

Speaking of NASCAR Sprint Cup, Kyle Busch missed the first eleven races of the season with a broken foot and ankle, which he suffered in the season-opening Xfinity Series race in Daytona.

Since his return to the series in late May, Busch has won three of the last four races in his fight to get into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Beyond his Sprint Cup victories, Busch also won an Xfinity Series race in Michigan last month.

In order to be eligible for the Chase, Busch must have at least one win (mission accomplished) and also must rank inside the top-30 in points. With seven races to go before the Chase begins, Busch sits 33rd in points, only 58 points out of 30th place. Busch has never won at Indianapolis, but has finished second twice, so he will likely be a factor this weekend.

I have no doubt he'll not only make it into the Chase, but he may just win it all. Now that would be amazing for a guy who will certainly go down as one of the best drivers NASCAR has ever seen.

Truck racing at Eldora

Last night saw the Camping World Truck Series compete in its only dirt track race of the season at Eldora Speedway in Ohio. Rookie Christopher Bell held off Bobby Pierce to win by .761 seconds in only his third series start.

The 20-year-old dirt racer led 106 of the 154 laps on the half-mile clay oval in his No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. Points leader Matt Crafton finished ninth while Tyler Reddick (second in points) and Erik Jones (third in points) finished third and fourth, respectively.

Janesville native Travis Kvapil was involved in an accident on lap 112 and finished 30th.

IndyCar's new “rule”

Many IndyCar fans were rolling their eyes and groaning this week after series boss Mark Miles informed competitors of a new rule for conduct. The new rule, first reported at, is defined in the series rulebook as “Rule 9.3.8, Detrimental Competitor Conduct.” It basically states that competitors must not engage in conduct or statements that will criticize any facet of the series.

This is obviously in response to many drivers who were critical following an oval race earlier this month at Fontana, California. Some drivers called into question the rules that produced the close racing while some other drivers wondered if the IndyCar brass was actually listening to their concerns.

Last week, following a race in Iowa, driver Ed Carpenter was upset with how rookie Sage Karam was racing him and confronted Karam after the race. While there were not really any fireworks associated with the confrontation, it seems to have had something to do with this new rule.

Even though Miles insists this new rule shouldn't be seen as a “gag order,” it's hard to imagine why else such a rule would now exist. With only three races remaining in the season, one wonders why the series couldn't have just waited until the off-season to address these concerns. The series is certainly great at shooting itself in the foot, and this writer thinks it's time for a mangement change.

Bianchi dies

Last Saturday saw the death of Formula One driver Jules Bianchi, who was critically injured in a race last October. Bianchi, 25, had been in a coma since colliding at high speed with a mobile crane during a safety period at the Japanese Grand Prix.

The crane was removing another crashed car from the course under a caution period when Bianchi's car skidded off track into the run-off area where the crane was located. In a report released today, a peak impact of 254g was recorded in the accident.

The Frenchman had been driving for the Manor (formerly Marussia) F1 team and scored the first-ever points for the team by finishing ninth at Monaco last season. Bianchi's death marks the first time an F1 driver has died due to race injuries since three-time champion Ayrton Senna was killed at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Local tracks

—In racing action last Friday at Madison International Speedway, Zack Riddle won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Late Models feature, Dan Snyder took the win in the Bandits division, Derek Kraus and Kevin Knuese won in Super Trucks and Aaron Moyer won in the Legends division. This Friday's action brings twin features for the Sportsman Series as well as the Hobby Stox, DASH Series and Six Shooters divisions. Gates open at 6 p.m. with racing starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 adults, $10 seniors and $8 students ages 12-17. Kids ages 6 and younger will be admitted free. Get your tickets here.

—Racing returns to Rockford Speedway on Saturday with the Late Model, Sportsman, Short Tracker and Roadrunner divisions. Gates open at 5 p.m. with racing at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 adults, $8 students ages 12-17 and $5 kids ages 6-11. Get your tickets here.

—Catch some racing at Jefferson Speedway with Late Model, Sportsman, Hobby Stock, International, Road Warrior and Bandit divisions Saturday. Gates open at 2 p.m. with time trials at 5 p.m. and racing at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 adults, $8 seniors and students ages 12-15 and $4 kids ages 8-11.