INDIANAPOLIS – It has been more than a decade since it was last completed, but this May former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch will endeavor to become only the fourth driver in history to contest the “Double” – competing in IndyCar’s historic Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 in the same day.
Busch will make his first career Indianapolis 500 qualifying attempt behind the wheel of an Andretti Autosport Indy car. His entry will complete a stable of five for Michael Andretti’s championship winning IndyCar team. It will not be the first time Busch has driven an Andretti Autosport Indy car. In 2013 Busch completed a test day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the team and in the process passed the mandated Rookie Orientation program effectively.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said. “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.”
If Busch qualifies for the Indianapolis 500 – and there is no guarantee he will – he will race 1,100 miles in two races, in two cities, in two totally different cars. In addition, he’ll be practicing and qualifying his Andretti Autosport Indy car while also competing in three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends around Indianapolis 500 activities.
The 35-year old American will start the two week Indy 500 stretch in Indianapolis May 11, fresh from the NASCAR race in Kansas. After spending the week testing the Honda-powered Indy car, Busch will log some serious air miles traveling between Indianapolis and Charlotte so he can qualify for the 500-mile race and practice and qualify for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600.
In total Busch will likely make more than ten trips between the cities – the most important and time sensitive being race day. Race day will place Busch in Indianapolis in the morning for the noon ET start time of the Indianapolis 500 before he makes the trip to Charlotte for the 6 p.m. ET green flag.
“I’m really excited to have Kurt come onboard for the Indy 500,” said Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti. “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.”
While the “Double” will be a new experience for Busch, it will actually be Andretti Autosport’s second time participating in the feat. Robby Gordon (who along with John Andretti and Tony Stewart are the three previous drivers to contest the “Double”) competed in both races in 2003, filling in at Indianapolis for an injured Dario Franchitti who at the time drove for Andretti Autosport.
“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, 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,” Busch said. “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’s car number and sponsors for his Indianapolis 500 attempt were not announced.