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July 23, 2014 | By IMS
Kurt Busch was last seen at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on a helicopter, leaving the famed 2.5 mile oval after the Indianapolis 500 to head to his “day job,” namely NASCAR and its Memorial Day weekend race.
It was a fast exit, but Busch knew he would be back soon. July means NASCAR’s turn at IMS, specifically the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com.
Busch is one of seven drivers from May’s Indy 500 who will participate in the Kroger Super Weekend. Verizon IndyCar Series regular Juan Pablo Montoya is jumping back into a stock car for the Brickyard 400, and Townsend Bell, James Davison, Jack Hawksworth, Sage Karam and Martin Plowman will compete in sports cars on the IMS road course.
Welcome back, gents. Has it really been two months?
“I have such great memories of competing at IMS already in the Indianapolis 500 this year, so it almost feels like going home a bit,” Karam said.
He has driven three races this year for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ TUDOR United SportsCar Championship team and got the call to drive on the IMS road course when a back injury prevented Memo Rojas from competing in the No. 01 Telcel Ford EcoBoost Prototype on the 14-turn, 2.435-mile IMS road course.
Karam, the 2013 Indy Lights champion, drove in the 500 as a 19-year-old rookie for Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing, which fielded a car in a partnership with Ganassi Racing. In one of the more impressive drives of the race, he started 31st and finished ninth.
He may have won Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors were it not for Busch, who finished sixth for Andretti Autosport while running “the double” at Indianapolis and Charlotte, N.C.
Busch’s regular ride is with Stewart Haas Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and this year he’s 25th in points with one win. The veteran has 13 starts at the Brickyard 400 with his best finish, a fifth, coming in his first race in 2001.
Among Busch’s competition on Sunday in the flagship event of the Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard will be 2000 Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya, making his third start of the year at IMS. He drove in both the Indianapolis Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 for Team Penske in the Verizon IndyCar Series, finishing 16th and fifth respectively, then jumped at the chance to drive one of the team’s Ford Fusions at the Brickyard despite not racing regularly in NASCAR anymore.
“With the cars they got right now, it was a no-brainer,” Montoya told Motorsport.com.
Montoya started and finished second in his first Brickyard 400 in 2007 for Ganassi, the team with which he put his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy. In 2009 he led 116 laps but was doomed by a late speeding penalty and finished 11th, and in 2010 he sat on the pole and led 86 laps but crashed late and placed 32nd.
Come Sunday, Montoya will take another shot at becoming the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400.