Time to tackle Darlington, where he and Craven produced classic 10 years ago
Two days ago Kurt Busch's seemingly top-five run at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway instead concluded with his Chevrolet doing airborne pirouettes before landing on top of Ryan Newman's Chevy for a brief upside-down ride on the track's frontstretch.
Busch, whose No. 78 Furniture Row Chevy ended up demolished and in 30th position, admits he has since watched video of the spectacular accident multiple times. It's hard to miss on all the television broadcast highlight reels, but even after living the moment, Busch has chosen to take a decidedly philosophical approach.
"I got lucky that Ryan Newman was in the position he was in to save my car from multiple barrel rolls," Busch said during a conference call with the national media on Tuesday.
"I got lucky that Ryan Newman was in the position he was in to save my car from multiple barrel rolls."
"When I reviewed the tape, I was in the mode of, this barrel roll is going to last from Talladega to Georgia. I mean, it was going to be a long barrel roll.
"But Ryan Newman was in the right place at the right time to help me settle back onto the track and not be as big of a wreck as it could have been.
"Yes (at that point), I'm just an innocent bystander, wrong place at the wrong time. There's nobody to blame.
"I can't even blame NASCAR for it. It's just when it's a free-for-all like that at the end of the race, you have to expect bumping and grinding."
It's certainly what competitors are expecting Saturday night at the notoriously tough Darlington (S.C.) Speedway, a place where Busch and now-retired Ricky Craven put on a "bumping-and-grinding" clinic 10 years ago in an all-time classic finish.
The two drivers banged door panels, nudged each other's cars from behind and spent the final two laps in a Hollywood-type grudge match to the checkered flag that resulted in Craven edging Busch in the closest finish (.002 seconds) since NASCAR began electronic scoring in 1993.
A three-wide finish in 2011 at Talladega equaled the margin-of-victory record set at Darlington, but the Busch-Craven duel remains one of the most talked about races in modern-day NASCAR.
The two spoke with media Tuesday to reminisce about the day -- an afternoon Craven said actually strengthened their friendship.
And after starring in Sunday’s dramatic super speedway ending Busch is ready to look ahead.
Before he arrives in Darlington, however, Busch is set to test an IndyCar for the reigning IndyCar Series championship team Andretti Autosport on Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 2004 NASCAR Cup champion said he is open to doing racing's Memorial Day weekend double -- the Indy 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same Sunday afternoon.
But, he cautioned, "Let's see how the test goes, and then I can look at the opportunities that could be beyond this coming Thursday."
He was steadfastly noncommittal whether that meant this month or perhaps a year from now.
In 2004, Robby Gordon was the last NASCAR driver to run both races. Three-time Cup champ Tony Stewart has fared the best among the three drivers (also John Andretti) to attempt the feat in the modern era. In 2001, he finished sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte.
After the wild ride in Alabama over the weekend, Busch said he is looking forward to a new opportunity and to reversing that historic finish at Darlington a decade ago.
"It's always tough when you wreck and go out in a blaze of glory like that," Busch said of Sunday. "The only way to get back in the groove is jump back on your horse and go again.
"This week I have a unique opportunity to test with Andretti Autosport and drive at Indianapolis in the month of May in an IndyCar. This is an experience of a lifetime, and we'll see what happens from Thursday. I'm really excited about it.
"And then on Friday jumping in the car at Darlington to go hammer down, it's going to be a fast-paced qualifying run, but then we have to focus on the full 400 miles and put ourselves in position at the end so that, yes, hopefully there's a good show like it was with Craven and I, 10 years ago.
"But I want to be on the .002-of-the-second-side ahead this time and bring home the trophy for the Furniture Row guys."
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