INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kurt Busch is slacking at Indy. He’s only entered in one race, scheduled to drive just 400 miles, and has no reason for a mad dash to the helicopter to catch a ride to another track.
Busch is like any other driver trying to win the Brickyard 400, blending in around the garage without scores of reporters and a documentary crew shadowing his every move. Busch has scrapped The Double for The Single at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Returning to IMS for the first time since the Indianapolis 500, Busch’s schedule was considerably less hectic, with one practice session the only racing on his Friday schedule.
“This feels like an off weekend,” Busch said, chuckling.
Busch should enjoy his extra free time. He could have made IMS his primary address in May when he tried to make history with an attempt at completing all 1,100 miles of the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Coca 600 on the same day. Busch earned top rookie honors driving for Andretti Autosport at Indy with a sensational sixth-place finish.
After some rest, food and fluids on a flight to North Carolina, Busch fell 129 laps shy of his goal because of a blown engine in the No. 41 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.
His date with history has to wait. Busch was the fourth driver to attempt the feat. Just one — Tony Stewart — has completed both races.
Only John Andretti, Stewart and Robby Gordon had even attempted The Double, and no driver had tried since Gordon in 2004. Busch hasn’t decided if he’ll make another run at double duty in 2015.
“Every day I wake up and like, yes, let’s do it again,” he said. “Then there are thoughts of, I finished sixth, that’s pretty special. I don’t know if I could achieve that result again.”
But he’s reminded daily of open wheel life. Busch texts with car owner Michael Andretti, IndyCar teammate Marco Andretti and other friends he made during his brief stint in open wheel. With unfinished business, Busch admits it would be fun to take another shot at both races.
The Double Part II is not as simple as just landing a ride. Busch spent months training like a cadet and crisscrossing the country for the doubleheader. He had to make sacrifices on the Sprint Cup side to chase his dream at the Brickyard.
At least next time, he’d have some experience juggling both rides.
“I’m more than willing to jump back in and try to do a full 1,100 miles because that’s the objective, to complete all 1,100,” he said. “It’s something special and it’s a target, and it’s only been achieved once. It’s very difficult to do.”
His lone regret, not sticking around Indy on Saturday for another crack at qualifying in the top nine instead of leaving early for the driver’s meeting for the All-Star race in Charlotte. Busch said he’s writing thank-you notes to everyone who helped along the way in his Double attempt.
He can make some out to his No. 41 team.
Busch has had a mediocre first season at SHR, an early-season win thrusting him into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field. But he slumped badly in the six races following his victory, with no top 10s and four finishes of 30th or worse. He started to turn his season around in the aftermath of his failed Double attempt with a pair of third-place finishes and nothing worse than 17th in the last six races.
Dubbed “The Outlaw,” Busch was embraced by the race-crazed fans at IMS who appreciated his efforts as he helped shine a brighter light on the Indy 500. He brought some definite buzz to the “Greatest Spectacle In Racing,” the crown jewel race of the IndyCar Series and one of the most prestigious races in the world.
“What I saw here in the month of May was very different than what it is here in July and August,” Busch said. “It’s their big backyard party. It’s their moment to show the world what Indianapolis means and what this oval has always meant to them. And so the people make this Speedway what it is and it’s very special. I’m glad that they were rooting me on.”
After conquering Indy, Busch is often asked, what’s next?
“Monster trucks,” he deadpanned.