"When I ran at Sebring ten years ago with a Champ Car, it took laps for the tyres to gain temperature and to feel the comfort and the grip level in the car," he recalled. "Here today Michael is telling me, hey, the tyres will have grip right away, go for it, and yet in my mind I'm just still a little bit hesitant because it's an open‑wheel car and I need to ease into gaining the tyre temperature."
"I think it was good for us," said Andretti in terms of what it meant for his team going into this weekend's opening practice sessions for the Indy 500. "We got our first laps in May, so that's always nice.
"We wanted to do it in the proper way, and we wanted to do it in the proper way mostly for Kurt. We wanted him to have a real experience," he explained. "We wanted to make some changes that he could feel and start to understand a little bit more about what to expect with the car in different conditions and different setups. I think we were able to achieve that.
"I would say the day went as good as we could have expected," Andretti said. "Kurt did exactly what I thought he was going to do. He just drove exactly the way we wanted him to do it. He gave great feedback, right on pace, built up to it nice and steady, didn't do anything stupid, which we knew he wouldn't, and it was a really good day."
"The guy's a natural. He jumped in, was comfortable right away, was eager to keep improving," contributed Hinchcliffe. "He came into it with a really open mind and was really receptive to the feedback we were giving him."
Before heading to Indianapolis Busch got advice from fellow NASCAR driver and 2006 Indy 500 champion Sam Hornish Jr. for advice. The most recent IndyCar race winner James Hinchcliffe was on hand at IMS on Thursday to offer advice, and Busch was also joined at Indianapolis by his father and his entire Furniture Row Racing crew who all showed up unexpectedly at Indianapolis in the morning to cheer their man on.
“We left Denver at 5am and instead of flying right to Darlington we wanted to stop and check this deal out," explained Busch's Sprint Cup crew chief Todd Barrier. "Glad we did, this is a cool place and Kurt is going a good job. He's a racer."
Busch went on to diligently complete the Rookie Orientation Program, the four-step process that all Indianapolis rookies must complete before being eligible to participate in qualifying and racing in the Indy 500.
"As we progress through the rookie orientation side of it, you can see why that's developed to help drivers get up to speed with the different phases of the mile an hour," explained Busch of the decision to adhere to ROP.
Due to fly out from Indianapolis to get to Darlington in time for the start of this week's NASCAR events, Busch even extended his time at the track several times in order to completely finish ROP rather than leave it half-done. That set tongues wagging about what Busch and the Andretti team were up to, and whether this was more than merely a fun media opportunity for the cameras.