KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – The countdown is on and preparations are in full swing as Kurt Busch prepares for his attempt at “The Double” – racing both the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on May 25.
For the second week in a row, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is splitting time between his Sprint Cup and IndyCar duties.
Busch spent Monday in Indianapolis driving an Andretti Autosport IndyCar at Indianapolis and, by the end of the week, he will turn his attention back to Sprint Cup Series and Saturday night’s Kansas 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
Busch is drawn to the challenge of “The Double” – two of the most prestigious races in auto racing, on auto racing’s biggest day of the year, in two different cities separated by nearly 600 miles, with 1,100 miles of racing in one day.
On April 29, Busch completed all phases of his rookie orientation program, running 66 laps and reaching a top speed of 220.844 mph in his No. 26 Andretti Autosport car.
Busch was back in action at Indianapolis Monday, when he logged 114 laps and reached a top speed of 222.289 mph as he worked to gain familiarity and comfort in the open-wheel car. In addition to logging laps, Busch also spent some time working with his IndyCar crew on pit stops.
After spending Monday in Indianapolis, Busch traveled to Maryland to resume his fitness and nutritional regimen as he is in constant training for the demands of both races.
Busch is scheduled to arrive in Kansas Thursday night and switch his attention back to the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet and Saturday night’s Sprint Cup event. The No. 41 team is looking to end its recent string of bad luck with a good run at Kansas. Busch scored a second-place finish, a career best at Kansas, in his last trip to the 1.5-mile oval in October 2013.
Busch knows the No. 41 team’s March 30 win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway virtually guarantees the team a spot in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, but adding a second win would cement its place in the 10-race playoff. SHR teammate Kevin Harvick and Team Penske driver Joey Logano are the first two drivers to score multiple wins on the season, and Busch is one of six single-race winners as the series heads to race 11 of 36.
In 16 career starts at Kansas Speedway, Busch has one pole, one top-five finish and four top-10s with an average finish of 17th. He also has led 239 laps at Kansas.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How has your IndyCar preparation been going?
“Everything on the Indy side has been going very well. Rookie orientation and everything on track has gone really well. The Andretti Autosport team has paced me through the steps at a comfort level that has helped me digest the new information. Their experience is leading my inexperience.”
Has anything caught you by surprise as you move back and forth from IndyCar to NASCAR?
“Everything has been fine back and forth between the IndyCar and the Cup car so far. As we advance further with the IndyCar, I’m going to have to go and learn how to drive in dirty air. That’ll be the next step – driving in traffic.”
What have been your key takeaways so far in the transition?
“The IndyCar just feels comfortable, now. When I did get up there around 220 mph, the speeds started to become more comprehendible to me, such as just feeling more comfort in the car. Now, it’s a matter of feeling more comfortable in traffic.”
What have you experienced in terms of demands on your time from going back and forth?
“So far, the time demands have been acceptable. Once we get past Kansas and really get into the two weeks that IndyCar requires, that will be the tough challenge. That’s what I’ve been training and preparing for – working out and keeping up with my nutrition. It’s game time once I roll out of Kansas on Sunday morning.”
What are you expecting at Kansas?
“I’m expecting high speeds. The track will be fast. Cars will definitely be on edge. This will definitely be one of the tougher challenges of this whole Indy-NASCAR back-and-forth. The car on edge at Kansas is very different then the car on edge at Talladega.”
What makes Kansas unique?
“Kansas is unique in terms of how the wind changes direction from day to day. So, turn two might be a problem one day and turn four might be a problem the next day. Now, we have a night race, so it’ll be interesting to see how the racetrack wants to make the cars handle after moving from day to night.”
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