10 May 2013
Successful Indy test for Kurt Busch
“It started out as fun and then we decided to get serious and make some changes,” acknowledged Busch. Was he, in fact, about to spring a surprise 2013 entry into 'the greatest spectacle of motorsport'? Busch said absolutely not. Or more accurately: absolutely not yet.
"I'm not talking about this year," he insisted. “It could be a 13-month project ... It's all about business and sponsorships and timing but I definitely want to race in the Indy 500 if we can make it happen."
Michael Andretti was certainly up for it, if the opportunity should ever arise. "It's too early to say anything definite but if we can work things out I'd love to run Kurt here next year,” the team owner said.
"He's a helluva driver and he adapted quickly to this car so I think it would be great for both of us," Andretti added.
"It's one thing to be out there running by yourself but put 30 other cars out there and it's a whole new deal," said Busch. "Today was just baby steps ... I'd be like a dart without feathers in all that traffic so I'd like to get more comfortable and maybe run another race before I came here."
Another race? The media definitely perked up on hearing that. The obvious choice for a Busch maiden outing would be Pocono Raceway, the unique tri-oval track to which the IZOD IndyCar Series is returning at the start of July for the first time in 24 years. It's a track that Busch knows well as it's been on the NASCAR calendar, and so it would give him a head-start in track familiarisation over the rest of the IndyCar drivers for the weekend.
So did Michael Andretti think that a Pocono outing for Kurt Busch might be on the cards? “I don't know, stranger things have happened,” the team owner smiled.
Almost more than merely accruing experience, the biggest problem facing Busch if he did ever decide to do the Indy 500 is how to combine it with the NASCAR event on the same Memorial Day holiday weekend. It would mean Busch finishing the 500-mile race, jumping on a plane and heading to Charlotte Motor Speedway for another 600-mile endurance event right after.
"A driver can race here at Indianapolis, give a full 500 miles - that needs to be the end of his day," he said. "To run 600 miles after that you've got to pace yourself. I honestly think I wouldn't be able to do it this year just with stamina, just with not giving my all for my Furniture Row team in Charlotte."
It is viable, and three men have done it in the recent past since improvements in jet transportation have made it physically possible to be in both places on the same afternoon. John Andretti (Michael's cousin) was the first in 1994, and then Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart have both achieved it as well. There had been speculation that Stewart might have been lured back this year for a third attempt at the 'double' after Roger Penske extended an offer to put together a race seat for him, but Stewart has since declined.
Busch is tempted by the prospect, but not this year. "If my name is mentioned with guys like Tony Stewart and John Andretti and Robby Gordon, it isn't a big feather in the cap but it's something to try to go and achieve. It's something to try to just stretch yourself to the limits in the world of motorsport, and you have to do it with good teams. You just can't expect to go out there and find success right away when your whole life has been spent in a stock car.
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