Kurt Busch's double preparations ramp up
April 28, 2014, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com
Kurt Busch's preparations for "the double" are kicking into high gear.
The 2004 champion of NASCAR's top circuit, who will attempt both the Coca-Cola 600 and the Indianapolis 500 on May 25, will return to the seat of an open-wheel car Tuesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, before heading to Talladega Superspeedway for this weekend's Sprint Cup Series event. Busch has one more test slated at Indy following the Talladega race, and will start Indy 500 practice May 11, the day after the NASCAR event at Kansas Speedway.
"This attempt is something serious," the Stewart-Haas Racing driver said Monday, when Andretti Autosport unveiled his No. 26 car for the Indy 500. "… It's an amazing challenge."
Busch will become just the fourth driver to attempt the Memorial Day weekend double, which he is doing partly to raise awareness of the Armed Forces Foundation. John Andretti, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart have each done it previously, with Stewart -- the co-owner of Busch's No. 41 Sprint Cup ride at SHR -- setting the benchmark in 2001 by becoming the first driver to complete all 1,000 miles of the challenge.
Unlike Stewart, Busch has no previous open-wheel experience, although that fact does not temper enthusiasm for the attempt.
"We're looking forward to great things," Michael Andretti, owner of Busch's Indy 500 entry, said Monday.
Busch's double attempt will also impact Sprint All-Star Race weekend, which immediately precedes the 600, and is also held at Charlotte. Busch said he'll likely miss about 90 minutes of All-Star Race practice on the Friday of that weekend due to on-track obligations in Indianapolis. On Saturday, May 17, Busch will begin qualifications in Indy, qualify for the All-Star race, and also compete in the non-points event at Charlotte that night.
"That's going to be a tough two days," he said recently. "That's probably the toughest two outside of the actual day of when you have to do 1,100 miles."
Busch has the benefit of a race victory, earned earlier this season at Martinsville Speedway, which enhances his Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup chances in the event of an unforeseen conflict. Tuesday will mark his first time in an open-wheel car since he tested at Indianapolis for Andretti in May of 2013 -- a day when he turned a lap of over 218 mph, and the idea for his double attempt was born.
"I can't wait to feel that speed again," Busch said, "and to get rid of that kid in a candy store feel, and to jump into it as a professional race car driver to give it my best attempt."