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Daytona 500 champ Kurt Busch becomes Cub for a day


He was explaining his run of recent good fortune last week, which Kurt Busch said began when his beloved Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series.

Uh-oh. He had entered Turn 1 a little hot. He corrected by applying opposite lock, as the racing drivers call it.

“It actually started when I met Ashley,” he said of then girlfriend Ashley Van Metre.

Then the Cubs won the World Series, then he married Ashley, then he won the Daytona 500.

Then, on Tuesday, he went to spring training with the Cubs at their Cactus League digs in Mesa, Arizona — not far from where his NASCAR brethren will be trading paint and possible pit road haymakers at Sunday’s Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.

The Cubs gave Busch jersey No. 86, probably because pitcher John Lackey already had dibs on No. 41, Busch’s car number. In return for getting to work out with the team, Busch brought the Harley J. Earl Trophy from Daytona with him so Kyle J. Schwarber and others Cubs could pose for photos with it.

“Epic day with the @Cubs,” Busch wrote on his Twitter account. “Thank you to all the staff and players … unbelievable experience. Even met (Cubs owner) Mr. Tom Ricketts!”

In a previous post, the Las Vegas racer said he stretched muscles he didn’t know he had. He posted a photo in which he appears to be going over the batting order wearing Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s glasses, which, come to think of it, sort of look like old-time racing goggles.

NASCAR HEALTH CARE

Lost in the scuffle of Joey Logano’s TKO of Kyle Busch (stopped on cuts) on pit road at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was an early race incident in which Kevin Harvick cut a tire and crashed hard — and waited for what seemed an eternity before NASCAR’s new traveling medical team arrived to check on him.

To hear Harvick tell it, it was like waiting on “Mother, Jugs & Speed,” if you remember the old movie about independent ambulance drivers.

“The worst part was the medical response,” said the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Ford. “It took them forever to get to the car. I thought we made that better, but obviously we haven’t.”

RILEY, (RACING) LIFE OF

Riley Herbst, the third-generation racer from Las Vegas who is driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in the ARCA series, will take a break from those duties to compete in Saturday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season opener at Tucson (Arizona) Speedway.

Herbst, the son of Las Vegas desert racing legend Troy Herbst, will drive the No. 54 UFC Gym/NOS Energy Drink Toyota, one of four cars entered by Bill McAnally Racing — the same team for which he drove in 2016 and finished seventh in final points. He finished seventh at Tucson last year.

“Tucson is a great track for good racing in all three lanes,” Riley Herbst said. “I’m excited to get back there and better my results from last year.”

WHITE FLAG

Texas Motor Speedway president and P.T. Barnum clone Eddie Gossage, on the Logano vs. Busch pit road fisticuffs — and whether he will use them to promote the April 9 Cup Series race at TMS:

“You ever eaten too much ice cream and gotten a brain freeze? That’s kind of how I felt when I saw that. Sort of had a brain freeze where this is just joy overload.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

SCHEDULE

NASCAR MONSTER ENERGY CUP

What: Camping World 500.

When: Friday, practice, 11 a.m. (FS1), qualifying, 4:45 p.m. (FS1). Saturday, practice, 9 a.m. (FS2), practice, 11:30 a.m. (FS2). Sunday, race, 12:30 p.m. (KVVU-5).

Where: Phoenix Raceway (oval, one mile), Phoenix.

Distance: 312 miles (312 laps).

Last year: Kevin Harvick held off Carl Edwards to win despite starting 18th. Harvick has won six of the past nine races in Phoenix.

Last week: Martin Truex Jr. picked up his first win of the season, taking all three stages at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Next race: Auto Club 400, March 26, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California.

NASCAR XFINITY

What: DC Solar 200.

When: Friday, practice, 10 a.m. (FS1), practice, 1 p.m., 3 p.m. (FS1). Saturday, qualifying, 10:05 a.m. (FS2), race, 1 p.m. (FS1).

Where: Phoenix Raceway (oval, one mile), Phoenix.

Distance: 200 miles (200 laps).

Last year: Kyle Busch won his third race in a row in 2016.

Last race: Joey Logano led 106 of 200 laps to win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Next race: NXS 300, March 25, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California

NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK

What: No race this week.

Last race: Christopher Bell won at Atlanta.

Next race: Alpha Energy Solutions 250, April 1, Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, Virginia.

VERIZON INDYCAR

What: No race this week.

Last week: Sebastian Bourdais opened the season with an upset win in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Next race: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 9, Long Beach, California.

FORMULA ONE

Season opener: Rolex Australian Grand Prix, March 26, Melbourne.

NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING

What: Gatornationals.

When: Friday, qualifying, 10:30 a.m., qualifying, 2 p.m. Saturday, qualifying, 9:45 a.m., qualifying, 12:15 p.m. Sunday, finals, 12:37 p.m.

Where: Gainesville, Florida.

Last year: Brittany Force beat Terry McMillen in the finals in Florida.

Last race: Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel), Matt Hagen (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock).

Next race: NHRA Nationals, March 31-April 2, Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

— The Associated Press

KOBALT 400 RATINGS DOWN

Fox had a 3.6 rating and 6 million viewers for Sunday's Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway — down from 4.4 and 7.2 million in 2016.

The NASCAR race still was the most-watched sporting event of the weekend, lapping the Duke-North Carolina basketball game that attracted 4.1 million viewers.

Ron Kantowski/Review-Journal