News & Multimedia

Busch's Indianapolis 500 Entry 'A Dream Come True'

Competing in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race hasn’t been a goal until recently, Kurt Busch acknowledges, primarily because he never envisioned it was attainable.

Today, Busch is looking forward to soaking in the Memorial Day weekend pre-race pageantry and solemnity as he prepares to drive the sleek and powerful  Andretti Autosport-prepared Honda race car for 500 grueling miles in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion will join the Andretti Autosport driver lineup for the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25. He’ll also seek to become the fourth driver to “do the double” by competing in the Coca-Cola 600 in Concord, N.C.

The green flag for the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for just after noon (ET), while the 300-lap stock car race 430 miles away is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Click it: Get Indianapolis 500 Mile Race tickets

"To add a driver with the résumé of Kurt Busch to the Indianapolis 500 field is a huge gain for INDYCAR,” said Derrick Walker, INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations. "We want to see the best 33 drivers put their skills to the test on the biggest stage in motorsports, regardless of which series they come from. To attempt 'the Double' is a tremendous challenge, and we're looking forward to watching Kurt accomplish the feat this May."

Kurt Busch, 35, who is dedicating the effort to U.S. military personnel serving around the world, said the opportunity “is a dream come true.”

“My dad, a Mac Tools distributor, and I would go to car shows and see Indy cars and he’d say, ‘This is about as close as you’ll ever get to one of these things’ because it was so far removed from what we could dream as a small blue-collar family from Las Vegas,” Busch said. “It’s just the different opportunities that have come up in motorsports (that have led me) to this biggest moment outside of stock cars.

“It was a talk over dinner (with his agent, John Caponigro) one night on ‘what if?’ and now it’s all becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti.

“I went once to watch the ‘500’ with Roger Penske when I first signed a contract with him to drive stock cars. To feel it, to experience it, I’m going to actually revert back to that to try to block out some of the emotional excitement of what it means to be part of the ‘500.’ To drive in it this year, nothing is going to compare, nothing can prepare or get me ready when they drop that green flag and 33 of us rush into Turn 1.”

Busch tested an Andretti Autosport car at the Speedway last May – his second time in an Indy car – between Sprint Cup Series races. He finished 14th in the Brickyard 400 on the 2.5-mile oval three months later.

“That was a whole kid in a candy store moment of experiencing an open-wheel car at 220 mph,” he said. “You can definitely get a different appreciation for the track and its heritage with an open-wheel car versus a stock car that I’ve done the last 15 years there. It got my mind going and my juices flowing on ‘I want to do this.’ The adrenaline and excitement was there, but last year just didn’t seem like the right timing. Now 11 months of chewing on the fat and working on the details, I’m more excited than ever to do this.”

Qualifications are May 17-18, with final practice on Carburetion Day May 23. Busch said a testing plan interspersed in the NASCAR schedule to “get up to speed” with teammates Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Carlos Munoz is being drafted.

“It’s going to be a steady progression that I have to follow Andretti Autosport’s lead,” he said. “We have a full-blown test program to be the best-prepared we can for the Month of May. I will be a rookie, but I bring a lot of oval experience in and we’ll see how we can blend that in.

“It’s about absorbing as much as I can and chewing on it the right way. Sam Hornish Jr., who was a teammate of mine at Penske Racing, I mentored him as much as I could on the stock car side. Don’t think I’m not going to call him and try to get that favor back.”

The last driver to attempt the double was Robby Gordon in 2004. Gordon, who in 2002 and ’03 raced in both events, started the ’04 Indy 500 but left at the first red flag (rain) for North Carolina. Jaques Lazier finished the race for Gordon. John Andretti (1994) and Tony Stewart (1999 and 2001) also raced in both events. Stewart is the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles – finishing sixth at Indianapolis and third at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I want to pop quiz everyone who’s done (the double) to learn as much as I can to just be able to anticipate what’s next and have things checked off your list so that you’re mentally prepared,” Busch said. “I have to thank Stewart Haas Racing for giving me the chance to fulfill this dream, to challenge myself in motorsports and to do something special in this day and age.”     

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Busch's Indianapolis 500 Entry 'A Dream Come True'
 
Busch's Indianapolis 500 Entry 'A Dream Come True'
The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion will join the Andretti Autosport driver lineup for the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25. He’ll also seek to become the fourth driver to “do the double” by competing in the Coca-Cola 600 in Concord, N.C.
Read More
Related Media
Conor Daly
 
Pruett's Preview: Chevrolet Dual in Detroit
This weekend in Detroit on the newly repaved Belle Isle street circuit is no different, and thanks to a pair of races—the only doubleheader event on the IndyCar calendar in 2015—physical and mental stamina will be pushed to the limit.
Read More
Indianapolis 500
 
USA Today's 10Best Readers Choice Voting Open for 'Best Motorsports Race,' 'Best NASCAR Track'
Voting is now open for USA Today’s 10Best Readers Choice in the “Best Motorsports Race” and “Best NASCAR Track,” with IMS featured in each.
Read More
2016 Indy 500 Logo
 
IMS Offers Special Ticket Discounts for 2016 Indianapolis 500 Fans
As a thank you to the greatest race fans in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is offering special pricing for selected days for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 29, 2016.
Read More
Juan Pablo Montoya
 
Monday Racing Roundup: Montoya Wins Thrilling Indianapolis 500
Montoya, who won the race 15 years earlier in his first start, held off reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and teammate Will Power by .1046 of a second -- the fourth-closest finish in race history -- in a thrilling battle over the final 15 laps that also included pole sitter and 2008 race winner Scott Dixon. Five of the 37 lead changes occurred in those 15 laps following a restart, with Montoya overtaking Dixon in Turn 1 for second place and Power in Turn 4 to lead Lap 197 by .0420 of a second.
Read More
Charlie Kimball
 
Kimball Surprises as Ganassi's Top Fighter in '500'
Kimball had never finished better than eighth in four previous Indy 500 starts, but when Dixon faltered late due to an understeer, the door was open for third place. Kimball took advantage of Dixon lifting off the throttle with two laps to go.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 988
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Laura Wyamn at (317) 492-8557 or email at lwyman@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
Happy to be supporting Rockers Reunion again! We will be at Rockers Reunion today in Fountain Square from 1pm-5pm! http://t.co/HZ1Q9xNlEM
about 23 minutes ago