Kurt Busch will attempt something that hasn’t been done since Robby Gordon in 2004: running the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
In an announcement with Andretti Autosport this morning, Busch revealed the he has signed a deal to compete in two of racings biggest events. He will be only the forth driver to attempt both races the same day joining John Andretti, Gordon and team-owner Tony Stewart.
“To me, I’ve always just tried to challenge myself in motorsports, and to be a student of all kind of cars — dirt tracks, road courses, superspeedways, short track, open wheel, and of course, our stock cars,” Busch told NASCAR.com. “That’s my love, my passion, and it’s in my blood. And it’s a chance to challenge myself, to do something physically and mentally as a driver, and show how tough NASCAR drivers are.”
Challenging himself is exactly what he is doing in 2014 and Stewart and co-owner Gene Haas are behind Busch’s plans.
“…To have his support — he (Stewart) said he wanted to go and watch the beginning of the 500 with me. It’s an amazing feeling to have a guy like Tony Stewart there,” Busch said. “A.J. Foyt, he gave me a thumbs-up at the Daytona 500, thinking that I might be doing this. So it’s really nice to have the support on the open-wheel side.”
Although no sponsor for Busch’s IndyCar ride has been announced, Andretti and Busch say that a deal is all but signed. Regardless, Busch is committed to doing both.
So how will it all happen?
Following the inaugural night race in Kansas on May 10th, Busch will head to Indy for a week of testing. Returning to Charlotte in time for the Sprint All-Star Race on May 17th, Busch will then head back to Indy for qualifying on May 18th. Qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 falls on May 22nd then Carb Day in Indy on May 23rd.
The big day falls on May 25th when Busch will compete in the Indianapolis 500 at 12pm Eastern then be back in Charlotte in time for a 6pm green flag drop for the Coca-Cola 600.
Of the three drivers who have competed in both races on the same day, Stewart has garnished the best result when he completed all 1,100 miles and finished sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte in 2001.
“It got my mind going and my juices flowing on ‘I want to do this.’ The adrenaline and excitement was there, but last year just didn’t seem like the right timing. Now 11 months of chewing on the fat and working on the details, I’m more excited than ever to do this,” Busch said.
“I want to pop quiz everyone who’s done (the double) to learn as much as I can to just be able to anticipate what’s next and have things checked off your list so that you’re mentally prepared,” Busch said. “I have to thank Stewart-Haas Racing for giving me the chance to fulfill this dream, to challenge myself in motor sports and to do something special in this day and age.”
“I’ve got videos of the last two years of the 500, and I want to get together with Tony and just watch tape and ask him as many questions as I can to put my mind at ease,” Busch said. “And then to be prepared, as far as nutrition, as far as core strength, the mental aspect of it. We’re going to have a ton of buddies, an entourage, wanting to go to this event, and we have to set them up so they’re not a burden for me to stay focused with what I have to do to stay focused on the cars.”
Last season, Roger Penske offered Stewart a ride in one of his IndyCar’s if he ever wanted to pull the double in the future. Could Busch’s experience inspire Smoke to try it again? What about Danica Patrick? Indy was her best track on the circuit and she has expressed her hope of running the Indy 500 again with the right team. Could we see three Stewart-Haas Racing drivers in the Indy 500 field in the future? It’s possible.
For now, Kurt Busch will have his hands full competing in his first open-wheel race under the biggest spotlight. Will he succeed? Tune in May 25th to find out.
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