Kurt Busch to Attempt Indianapolis 500, Coke 600 ‘Double’


Kurt Busch will become just the fourth driver in history to attempt the Memorial Day weekend double. He will attempt to race two of North America’s biggest races on the same day when he drives in the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on May 25.


Speaking on “Fox & Friends,” Busch confirmed he will drive a Dallara-Honda fielded by Andretti Autosport at the Indy 500, before immediately flying to Charlotte, N. C., to pilot his regular No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in NASCAR’s longest race.


“It’s a big day for us. The logistical side is a big challenge, and the other challenge was getting two teams with the caliber of Andretti Autosport and Stewart-Haas racing lined up. Cessna’s plane travel company is going to help me get back and forth,” said Busch. “In this day and age of social media, everyone’s going to want to keep up with us. It’s Memorial Day weekend, and this isn’t just a PR stunt.”


At Phoenix International Raceway this past weekend, Busch revealed that he is closing the Kurt Busch Foundation, and rolling it into the Armed Forces Foundation with an initial donation of $100,000. He said that will be a key element of his Indy/Charlotte double.


“I’ve been working with the Armed Forces Foundation for the last three years to build attention toward our troops and their PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] struggles and traumatic brain injuries,” said Busch. “I’m going this for the troops. There’s going to be a full-on workout regimen that I’m going to be full tilt with the next three months. It’s hard to do 1,1,00 miles the same day. It’s not just the physical side’ it’s the mental side as well.”


Busch, 35, tested an Indy car for Andretti Autosport last year with thoughts of becoming the first driver to try the Double since Robby Gordon in 2004. In early 2003, Busch ran about 20 laps in one of Bobby Rahal’s Lola/Coswirth Indy cars at the Sebring International Raceway road course. In May 2013, he had a more serious test, spending a day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Andretti team, reaching a speed of 218 mph.


There was not enough time to secure sponsorship and staffing for Busch to compete in the 2013 Indy 500, but the he and team owner Michael Andretti agreed to stay in contact about the possibility of Busch making his IndyCar debut at Indianapolis this year.


The plan became complicated when the Andretti team switched from Chevrolet to Honda engines this year, creating a potential conflict due to Busch’s Chevrolet ties in NASCAR. After exploring other options with Chevrolet-powered IndyCar teams, including Ganassi Racing and Team Penske, Busch decided that he wanted to remain loyal to Andretti and was able to work out a release to drive a Honda car at Indy.


“Sometimes when you go to the dance with your first partner, you want to stay there and stick it out,” said Busch. “I’m a loyal guy, and the coaching I received from Michael Andretti during that rookie orientation day was priceless. For him and Indianapolis Motor Speedway to invest in that day was a big moment. So I always hoped to do it with Andretti Autosport. NASCAR and IndyCar gave us their blessing. We just needed to work through some scheduling issues.”


Busch’s entry will be Andretti Autosport’s fifth car in the Indy500’s 33-car field, to go along with those driven by full-time IndyCar series drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Carlos Munoz.


“I’m really excited to have Kurt come on board for the Indy 500,” said 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 IndyCar quickly and have a competitive month with us.”

Carrie Whitmore