Kurt Busch will not be making an appearance in the IZOD IndyCar Series this year after all, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion confirmed this week.
There had been tentative plans for Busch to make his début in the open wheel series at next month's season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California with the Andretti Autosport team. The driver and team had carried out a successful test together at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May earlier this year which led to speculation that Busch might consider entering the 2014 Indianapolis 500.
As part of that preparation, there had been initial plans for Busch to enter next month's race at Fontana to give him the necessary IndyCar experience before embarking on an Indy 500 campaign. The October 19 event is the last IndyCar race scheduled to be held on an oval course until the start of the 'Month of May' build-up at the iconic superspeedway.
"I was just hoping to have more of my homework done, more experience and more of an education, which would have meant to race Fontana this year and to be better prepared for Indianapolis next year," Busch explained.
The team would have needed to obtain an additional engine from Chevrolet to allow Busch to participate alongside the team's regular line-up of James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti, EJ Viso and current IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, but the deadline for agreeing the extra unit in time for Fontana has now passed.
Part of the reason why the IndyCar outing is now not possible is that Busch has just made the 2013 Sprint Cup Chase with Furniture Row Racing, something that had appeared pure fantasy back at the start of the season as no driver from a single-car team has ever before managed to qualify for the Chase since the ten-race, 12-driver championship play-off format began in 2004.
"It's an amazing feeling to go up against these big teams and to put a little lone Chevrolet from Colorado into the Chase against the big boys," said Busch after his historic achievement in the sport last weekend.
“This feels incredible,” he added, having both started and finished in second place at Richmond International Raceway last weekend to secure his Chase berth. “The way that we worked together as a team – it's amazing that we have come this far and put ourselves in this position. We came close [at Richmond], but haven't won a race yet this year."
Having made the Chase for the seventh time in his Cup career albeit this time very much against the odds and all expectations, Busch certainly doesn't want to squander the opportunity. When he had first considered racing an IndyCar at Fontana he hadn't been expected to still be in title contention by October, and now that he is he will be focussing everything on that.