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Kyle Busch’s dream of driving in Indy 500 gets owner’s attention

One of the major sidebars stemming from Kyle Busch’s announcement he would be leaving Joe Gibbs Racing after 15 years to drive for Hall of Fame car owner Richard Childress was that he now has an option to race in the Indianapolis 500.

“I made sure it was in the deal. I can go run it if I want to,” the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion said about joining Childress’ Chevrolet-supported team and the possibility of scratching the world’s most famous automobile race — where Chevy is a major engine supplier — off his bucket list.

Busch, who will be ending a 15-year stint as the star driver in NASCAR’s Toyota lineup, broke into a big smile when discussing the 500 with reporters. “By all means, any IndyCar teams that are Chevrolet, call me up.”

This is how the one with a long connection to his hometown reacted.

“I’d love to figure out a way to get him on my team — do you have his number?” said Sam Schmidt, a principal stockholder in Arrow McLaren SP, one of IndyCar’s premier Chevy-powered entrants.

“We saw how good his brother did, and I think it would be fantastic for IndyCar, the sport — we haven’t had a double for a while,” Schmidt said about Busch’s older brother, Kurt, finishing sixth in the 2014 Indy 500 en route to being named the race’s rookie of the year and driving in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 — auto racing’s so-called double — later the same day.

A Kyle Busch-Arrow McLaren SP partnership would produce a lot of synergy.

Along with the Las Vegas and Chevrolet associations, Schmidt and Childress have a common sponsor in Lucas Oil, a lubricants company that has a huge presence in Indianapolis. One of the biggest: naming rights of the Indianapolis Colts’ domed stadium.

“Frankly, I can’t think of a better combination,” Schmidt said of putting together an Indy 500 effort for Busch after Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist and Juan Pablo Montoya finished second, fourth and 11th at the famous Brickyard in May.

“I’ve seen Richard a lot in the garages here (during NASCAR weekends at Las Vegas Motor Speedway), and I think he’s a great team owner with a lot of history embedded in NASCAR — so, heck, I’d like to do it with him as well.”

Throw in a blessing from Busch’s wife, Samantha — “she hasn’t said no; the last person who said no was my former boss (Gibbs),” a still smiling Busch said about his bride, a native Hoosier — and it would seem the future NASCAR Hall of Famer’s goal of driving in the Indy 500 is an object in his mirror that is getting closer.

Around the horn

— Reader email received this past week suggested former UNLV athletic director Mike Hamrick must have been doing cartwheels on the 50-yard line after his alma mater, Marshall, won 26-21 at Notre Dame last weekend.

Perhaps, but not as the Thundering Herd’s AD.

Hamrick, Marshall’s second-longest tenured athletic director (12 years), was nudged toward the door in June. He resigned as head of the athletic department to accept a one-year reassignment as a special assistant to the Marshall president.

— Further proof that social media specializes in vitriol and airing grievances: According to betting.com, the Raiders are the fifth “most loved” NFL team based on positive mentions on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with 32 percent.

Only two NFL clubs — the Packers at 54 percent and the Rams at 52 — had more positive posts than negative. The Browns were ranked last with glad tidings of 17 percent.

— File this under what could only happen in Las Vegas: Tyler George, the 2018 Olympic gold medalist in curling from frosty Duluth, Minnesota, is in balmy Las Vegas this weekend to help raise money for a dedicated curling facility in Southern Nevada.

For more information on the project and Las Vegas’ active curling community, visit curlvegas.com.

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Twitter user Larry Brown, on the NFL’s Amazon Prime debut: “Imagine telling Al Michaels of ‘Do you believe in miracles fame?’ in 1980 that in 2022 he would be calling NFL games on Thursday nights for an internet shopping website company.”

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

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