Kurt Busch announced today that he will be attempting to do the Indianapolis 500-Coca Cola 600 double. The 35-year-old will attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 for Andretti Autosport, while running the Coca Cola 600 later that same day in his No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch commented. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throw-back I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael (Andretti) over dinner one night on ‘what if?’ and now it’s all becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
The 2004 Sprint Cup Series Champion becomes the fourth driver to attempt the “Double” – following in the steps of Robby Gordon, John Andretti and his car owner Tony Stewart. Stewart attempted the feat twice – 1999 and 2001 – and is the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles – finishing sixth at Indianapolis and third at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“It’s great having Tony (Stewart) as the co-owner of my NASCAR team as, in the weeks leading up to the month of May,” Busch continued. “It gives me a chance to talk with him about his personal experiences with the “Double” – to anticipate what’s next and have things checked off the list so that I’m mentally and physically prepared for the challenge. I owe a big thanks to Tony, Gene Haas, and the partners at Stewart-Haas – including General Motors – for allowing me to fulfill this dream, to challenge myself in motorsports and to do something special in this day and age.”
Busch participated in a test session with AA last year, driving Ryan Hunter-Reay’s car. He got up to speed quick and was able to pass the mandated Rookie Orientation program effectively.
“That was a whole kid in a candy store moment of experiencing an open-wheel car at 220 mph,” Busch commented. “You can definitely get a different appreciation for the track and its heritage with an open-wheel car versus a stock car that I’ve done the last 15 years. It got my mind going and the juices flowing on ‘I want to do this.’ The adrenaline and excitement was there, and it fueled the passion to work on the details and turn the dream into a reality. And now here we are.”
Busch will be in the fifth-AA car as Andretti Autosport is running the full schedule this year with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Carlos Munoz.
“I’m really excited to have Kurt come onboard for the Indy 500,” Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti stated. “He did a great job for us when he tested last year. He’s obviously a natural talent and we feel he is going to take to the Indy car quickly and have a competitive month with us.”
Busch’s journey to qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 will start practice on Monday May 11th, right after finishing up the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas. Busch will partipate in two weeks of Indy practice and qualifying leading up to the event – while squeezing in practice at Charlotte and the all-star race leading up to Memorable Day. Busch will hopefully start the Indianapolis 500 at noon ET time and be done to be back in Charlotte for the 6 p.m. EST green flag. AA notes that Busch will make more than 10 trips between the cities during the two week period.
INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Derrick Walker states that adding Busch to the field is a huge gain for IndyCar.
“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,” Walker added. “To attempt ‘the Double’ is a tremendous challenge, and we’re looking forward to watching Kurt accomplish the feat this May.”