The NASCAR notebook …
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. ó Kurt Busch will drive the No. 22 Dodge in place of injured Penske teammate Brad Keselowski in NASCARís Nationwide race at Watkins Glen International on Saturday.
ěWe think itís a smart move to let him focus on just the Sprint Cup action this weekend,î Busch said.
Keselowski pulled out a gutsy victory Sunday at Pocono, holding off Kyle Busch over the final laps despite a fractured left ankle and strained back suffered a week ago in a crash while testing at Road Atlanta.
It was Keselowskiís second win of the season and moved him into strong contention for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. But Keselowski, last seasonís Nationwide champion, is still ailing as he prepares for Sundayís Cup road race on The Glenís grueling 11-turn layout.
ěPenske Racing is fortunate that Kurt … is in its stable of drivers,î team president Tim Cindric said. ěWe appreciate him lending a hand during this time. We will continue to monitor Bradís recovery.î
Cindric said Keselowskiís Nationwide schedule will be determined on a race-by-race basis.
The last time Kurt Busch drove a Nationwide race at The Glen, he held off Robby Gordon in a fender-bending final two laps for the win in 2006.
LONG POND, Pa. ó Pocono Raceway will shorten its Sprint Cup races to 400 miles starting in 2012.
The races on the 21/2 mile track had been 500 miles, long drawing complaints from drivers and fans that the events were too long. Track CEO Brandon Igdalsky says 400 miles should make the races more exciting.
NASCAR backs the move. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations, says the transition should make for more exciting competition at one of the more unique tracks in the sport.
The 2012 races are scheduled for June 10 and Aug. 5.