Kurt Busch is in a perfect position to realize a dream.
Busch, driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, announced Tuesday morning that he will drive a fifth Andretti Autosport entry in the Indianapolis 500 May 25 and then return to Charlotte Motor Speedway that night to compete in the Coca-Cola 600.
In doing so, Busch will be just the fourth driver to attempt the Indy-Charlotte double in the same day.
Last year, Busch tested for Andretti Autosport and passed his Indy 500 rookie test, hitting an average speed of more than 218 miles per hour. That set up the possibility of actually running the 500 this year.
"That was a whole kid-in-a-candy-store moment of experiencing an open-wheel car at 220 mph," Busch said of his test. "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."
And Busch couldn’t be in a better situation to do something that’s only been attempted by three other drivers: John Andretti, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart.
Andretti Autosport will certainly field competitive cars at the Brickyard. and Busch has a huge support system around him at Stewart-Haas: SHR driver and co-owner Stewart has done the double twice himself, in 1999 and 2001; SHR driver Danica Patrick came to the team from the IndyCar ranks; and team co-owner Gene Haas has a deep appreciation of open-wheel cars, and, in fact, is trying to start a Formula One team himself right now.
Kurt Busch (right) stands with Andretti Autosport team owner and former open-wheel driver Michael Andretti.
Busch has shown his versatility, too: In addition to passing his IndyCar rookie test last year, he previously tested an IndyCar at Sebring for Bobby Rahal in 2003. Busch also has competed in the NHRA Pro Stock ranks and had a successful test of an Australian V8 Supercar last year at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
And Busch and Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. used to be teammates at Penske Racing, giving Busch another experienced Indy racer to gain information from.