In exactly one month from today the 98th Indianapolis 500 will get underway. The peculiarities of this race will be many: the return of Jacques Villeneuve to the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, a race that he won in 1995, and also one NASCAR driver trying the “Double”: Kurt Busch. Busch will drive a Honda-powered car fielded by Andretti Autosport during the 500 and at the end of the race he will move rapidly to Charlotte to take part in the Coca Cola 600, the longest race on the NASCAR schedule.
The first time the Double was attempted was in 1994 when John Andretti came home 10th in the Indy 500 but failed to finish the Coca Cola 600 because of an engine failure. In the following seasons Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon tried to run both races with fluctuating results: Stewart had his best double in 2001 when he finished sixth in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and third in the Coke 600, while Gordon never really managed to impress in both the races.
Kurt Busch’s experience at the wheel of an Indycar consists just in a test he made at Indy last May in which he started getting to know how Indycars work. To improve his feelings with the racecar and the track he and the other Rookies (Villeneuve is considered a rookie too) will have the opportunity to take part in a rookie orientation test on April 29th and May fifth at Indy. The orientation test will be made of three phases and at the end of them, the rookies will be allowed to practice freely.
What chances does Kurt have to do well this year? For sure Andretti Autosport being one of the most powerful organizations in the Indycar Series can give him a fast car, but the rest is up to him: although the speeds he ran during the test he made last year wouldn’t have been sufficient to get into the field for the race, I have no doubt that he will improve during the many days of practice the drivers will take advantage of before the race and he will not have problems in qualifying for the race. I also think that he may be a threat for the win on raceday if the circumstances fall in his favour: Allmendinger proved it last year by staying in contention for most of the race, as well as Carlos Munoz who finished second in his rookie start. On the Sprint Cup side of the matter he will be as good as always, he will only need to regain some energies on his way to Charlotte.
What do you think about Kurt Busch’s chances of doing well in the double? Tell us in the comments.