Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kurt Busch has already raced in NASCAR and the NHRA. In May, he’ll add the IndyCar Series to his resume, and it will lead to the longest racing day of his life.
The 2004 Cup Series champion will drive for Andretti Autosport in the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25th. Later that day, he’ll head to Concord, North Carolina for the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in hopes of becoming just the fourth driver to “do the double” and compete in both races.
"To add a driver with the résumé of Kurt Busch to the Indianapolis 500 field is a huge gain for IndyCar,” said Derrick Walker, IndyCar President of Competition and Operations. "We want to see the best 33 drivers put their skills to the test on the biggest stage in motorsports, regardless of which series they come from. To attempt 'the Double' is a tremendous challenge, and we're looking forward to watching Kurt accomplish the feat this May."
Busch, 35, tested an Andretti Autosport car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last May.
“My dad, a Mac Tools distributor, and I would go to car shows and see Indy cars and he’d say, ‘This is about as close as you’ll ever get to one of these things’ because it was so far removed from what we could dream as a small blue-collar family from Las Vegas,” Busch said. “It’s just the different opportunities that have come up in motorsports (that have led me) to this biggest moment outside of stock cars.”
“I went once to watch the ‘500’ with Roger Penske when I first signed a contract with him to drive stock cars,” Busch continued. “To feel it, to experience it, I’m going to actually revert back to that to try to block out some of the emotional excitement of what it means to be part of the ‘500.’ To drive in it this year, nothing is going to compare, nothing can prepare or get me ready when they drop that green flag and 33 of us rush into Turn 1.”
Qualifying for the Indy 500 takes place May 17th and 18th, with final practice on Carburetion Day, Friday, May 23rd. A testing plan for Busch to work with Andretti Autosport teammates Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Carlos Munoz is being drafted.
“It’s going to be a steady progression that I have to follow Andretti Autosport’s lead,” he said. “We have a full-blown test program to be the best-prepared we can for the Month of May. I will be a rookie, but I bring a lot of oval experience in and we’ll see how we can blend that in. It’s about absorbing as much as I can and chewing on it the right way. Sam Hornish Jr., who was a teammate of mine at Penske Racing, I mentored him as much as I could on the stock car side. Don’t think I’m not going to call him and try to get that favor back.”
John Andretti was the first driver to attempt “the double” in 1994, followed by Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart (1999 and 2001) and Robby Gordon (2002 through 2004); only Stewart has completed all 1,100 miles, finishing sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte in 2001.
“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,” said Busch. “I have to thank Stewart-Haas Racing for giving me the chance to fulfill this dream, to challenge myself in motorsports and to do something special in this day and age.”
Quotes in this piece provided by IndyCar.
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