NASCAR: Kyle Busch rules out 2021 Indy 500 effort

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch has long said he wants to compete in the Indy 500. But does he see that happening in 2021?

If not for a clause in his NASCAR Cup Series contract with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2016, two-time champion Kyle Busch may have gotten his first IndyCar and Indy 500 start under his belt, much like his brother Kurt did in 2014 en route to becoming just the fourth driver to ever attempt the Memorial Day Double.

But several years later, the Memorial Day Double, which involves competing in the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and then flying down to Charlotte Motor Speedway to compete in the Coca-Cola 600, is something that still appeals to Kyle.

It is something that he had serious discussions about doing last year before the coronavirus pandemic hit and any desire to do so had to be temporarily sidelined.

In fact, 2020 was the first time in several years that the Memorial Day Double wasn’t possible, as the Coca-Cola 600 took place as planned while the Indy 500 was pushed back by three months due to the pandemic.

But is 2021 going to be the year that the 35-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada native gets behind the wheel of an open-wheel car and competes in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”?

In one word, no. But here is what he had to say in full during his Daytona 500 media availability.

"“No, that’s further down the road. That’s on the back burner. Haven’t had any discussions with anybody and don’t foresee that being possible and to me, it wouldn’t make sense either until everything’s kind of all back to normal and you get the whole big hoopla of what that event’s really all about.“I really enjoyed seeing my brother do it and obviously he had success and, Fernando Alonso and last year it just kind of seemed like, you know, the Indy 500 grand, but it was kind of a lost Indy 500 if you will. So we’ll wait until things get back to normal.”"

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Busch’s options in the Indy 500 would be limited even though he now has the green light from Joe Gibbs Racing to compete in the race, so a deal would probably need to have come together by now to make it happen anyway.

Because he drives for Toyota full-time in the Cup Series, he is not allowed to compete for Honda in IndyCar due to the global rivalry between the two companies. Interestingly, he can only drive for Chevrolet, even though he drives against Chevrolet in the Cup Series full-time as well. But that happens to be the only non-Honda option at America’s top level of open-wheel racing at this point, and that has been the case for many years.

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This year’s Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 are scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 30, with the former set to be broadcast live from Indianapolis Motor Speedway on NBC beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET and the latter set to be broadcast live from Charlotte Motor Speedway on Fox beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET.