Kyle Busch has admitted that he 'wouldn't mind trying' Formula 1 after being linked with the nascent, North Carolina-based USF1 outfit – but he insists he will not make the move until he has first claimed the NASCAR laurels.
The high-profile Joe Gibbs Racing star – who last month made history by triumphing in both the Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series at the Auto Club Speedway in California on the same weekend, and last weekend registered his first Sprint Cup victory of 2009 on home turf at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – was mooted by USF1 co-founder Peter Windsor as a potential driver for the new project.
Aside from Busch, other candidates understood to be in the frame are IndyCar Series front-runners Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti, fellow NASCAR ace AJ Allmendinger and A1 Team USA hot-shot Jonathan Summerton. The last American driver to break into the top flight was Scott Speed, who raced for Scuderia Toro Rosso from 2006 until midway through 2007; prior to that, there had been no representative from the other side of the Atlantic since Michael Andretti all the way back in 1993.
It is not the first time Busch's name has been mentioned in connection with F1, either. The hard-charging 23-year old was scheduled for a test outing with Toyota at Motegi late last year, until he was vetoed from going by NASCAR organisers, who insisted he attend the Nationwide Series awards ceremony and banquet in Orlando instead, much to his barely-concealed chagrin.
Even if he admits that he has 'not been talked to' by anyone at USF1, the outspoken Las Vegas native did concede that he would not necessarily be uninterested by the proposal – but he is adamant that, before he makes any potential switch, he first wants to seal the crown in NASCAR's premier Sprint Cup division. Busch claimed eight Cup race successes in 2008 and began the season-ending Chase for the Championship in pole position for glory, but faded away to tenth place in the final standings as myriad mechanical woes intervened and his title bid badly faltered.
“I toss the idea around,” he confessed, in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel
. “Open-wheel stuff was never on my radar screen as a kid, but it's something that I wouldn't mind trying.
“I wouldn't mind trying IndyCars and running the Indianapolis 500 or Formula 1, but it's not quite the time for me to do that yet. I want to get it done here first. If I could win a championship here in the next two or three years, then I wouldn't mind going over there and doing that – trying it for a few years and coming back.
“Hopefully I'll get a chance to do it and see if I'm any good at it. I think I'd still be young enough that if I could win a championship by 25, [I could] go run Formula 1 for a few years [and] be back by 28. I still have plenty of time left to run in NASCAR. It's just what I see, but a lot of things would have to work out for that to happen and you'd have to be guaranteed a spot with a team to come back with. That's not always possible.”
Indeed, Busch is under contract at Joe Gibbs until the end of next season – the third year of his three-year deal with the Huntersville-based squad – and has an enviable record in NASCAR circles. Having begun go-karting at the age of just five, he followed his elder brother Kurt into the leading stock car series and made such an impact that, by 18, he was already a Nationwide winner.