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Busch turns fastest laps in both practices

The SportsXchange

By Scott Held

Special to NASCAR Wire Service

Distributed by The Sports Xchange

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Kurt Busch was fastest in both of Saturday's practice sessions for Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 and got the added bonus of different weather conditions during each warmup.

He turned the day's only 200 mph lap on a warm Saturday morning and turned in a 197.368 fast lap during the overcast final Sprint Cup period.

"We obviously feel good about our car after being fastest in all three practice sessions," Busch said. "But it's one thing to be fast in practice by yourself and another to be fast in race traffic and with the rubber buildup.

"Right now it's about making the right adjustments under race conditions."

He'll start his No. 78 Chevy on the front row of Sunday's race next to pole winner Carl Edwards.

The two fastest cars in pole qualifying stayed that way during Saturday's early Sprint Cup practice session after Busch recorded a lap of 200.955 and Edwards clocked in at 199.595 mph. Speeds were slower in the late period, when Kasey Kahne's No. 5 Chevy was five-hundredths of a second off Busch's hot lap.

Kahne will start sixth Sunday.

Tony Stewart brushed the wall in turn 2 during Friday's first practice but Saturday's outings came and went without incident.

FATHER'S DAY SURPRISE

Joel Correll and son Jarrett were looking forward to a special trip to MIS on Saturday but had no idea what was in store.

After a VIP tour of the track, the duo was invited to the media center, where Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola and Richard Petty himself gave them a real surprise.

Each was given a No. 43 Eckrich Ford team shirt and 15-year-old Jarrett, who lives with cystic fibrosis, learned Almirola will carry his and his dad's names on his car in Sunday's Father's Day Sprint Cup race.

"It's the first time I've ever been to a race," Jarrett said. "I don't think I'm going to forget this."

Nor will his father, a Marine Corps veteran who traveled with his son from Findlay, Ohio.

"We pretty much expected to come to the track and get a little bit of special treatment," he said, "but not this. This is unbelievable."

The visit was arranged as part of Operation Inspiration, a campaign begun earlier this year by Eckrich and Operation Homefront, a national organization that assists needy veterans and their families. The partnership seeks to "help honor, thank and support the military families who inspire their fellow Americans," Richard Petty Motorsports said in a statement.

The racing team also will be treating Jarrett and his parents to a trip to Victory Junction, an outdoors camp in Randleman, N.C., for children with terminal or chronic illnesses. It will be the teen's fourth visit.

"It's great," Jarrett said. "The counselors always make sure we have fun there."

PATRICK TOPS NON-MASCOT ENDORSERS

Danica Patrick will start her No. 10 Chevy 37th in Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 but she's No. 1 when it comes to drawing social-media followers to her primary sponsor.

In a poll by Synthesio, a social-media monitoring specialist, Patrick was the highest-rated celebrity endorser when it came to generating buzz for sponsor GoDaddy.

Synthesio CEO Loic Moisand told USA Today it's because she frequently mentions her sponsor on her Twitter account (@DanicaPatrick) and "she appears reachable."

"I've always tried to be very authentic with my answers or what I talk about on social media," Patrick said after practice at Michigan International Speedway. "My sponsor Tissot's the one that said it would help sponsor my Twitter page and launch it, so I was kind of one of the first ones who was getting the sponsors involved in the social-media aspect."

As well as she performs among celebs, Patrick still was no match for the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Aflac duck or the Geico gecko. Imaginary characters, the study found, drew a much greater number of followers to sponsors than humans.

"They're not real people," she said. "I win in the people category."

LEFFLER FUND CREATED

A trust fund has been created to help care for five-year-old Charlie Dean Leffler, whose father, Jason, was killed last week in a sprint car crash in New Jersey. He was 37.

A memorial service for Jason Leffler, who made 73 Sprint Cup Series starts, will be held Wednesday at Grace Covenant Church in Cornelius, N.C.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Charlie Dean Leffler Discretionary Trust, c/o Sun Trust Bank, 232 Williamson Road, Mooresville, N.C. 28117. Turner Scott Motorsports co-owner Harry Scott Jr., former Braun Racing owner Todd Braun and Great Clips chief financial officer Steve Overholser will serve as trustees of the fund.

A moment of silence was observed for Jason Leffler before the start of Saturday's Nationwide Series Alliance Truck Parts 250.
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