CONCORD There are many NASCAR fans and competitors who think races should be shortened.
So why would Kurt Busch, already scheduled to run 600 miles in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, want to add 500 miles more to his day?
In large part, Busch’s attempt Sunday to run both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day comes down to what he is.
“I’m a racer. Tony Stewart is a racer, Robby Gordon is a racer and John Andretti is a racer,” Busch said this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “This is a true test of what your commitment level is on being a racer.”
It’s a wide-ranging test, not just of the logistics of competing in two marathon races in two different racing disciplines in two different cities in the same day.
There are two different teams working to prepare two entirely different cars. Busch, who has never competed in an IndyCar Series race, has had to adjust his nutrition and workout regiments in preparation for the grueling day of competition. There are also a host of media obligations in both cities.
Yet Busch has soldiered on largely without complaint.
“I’m having a blast doing it; you just have to know it comes with a lot of hard work. I encourage others to try it out,” Busch said. “At the end of the day, though, motorsports to me is my family, it’s my home.
“I’m doing this for a lot of different reasons, but at the end of the day I think motorsports can use the shot in the arm to (follow) this is a guy that has never been in an Indy car (and) follow him to Charlotte to see what he can do down there running that full 600 miles.”
Busch, 35, qualified in 12th place for his first Indy 500 with an average speed of 230.782 mph.
He is attempting to become the fourth driver to complete the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Tony Stewart was the last to do it, accomplishing the feat in 2001.
Busch’s attempt at “double duty” has drawn attention from both racing disciplines.
Fans and competitions at Indianapolis this month have complimented Busch on his performance in practice and qualifying. His month of May had been without incident until he wrecked during an IndyCar practice on Monday.
Busch will use a backup car from one of his Andretti Autosport teammates in Sunday’s 500 but had just one day of practice (Friday) with the new car.
“I’m glad that I experienced it. I might sound stupid by saying that I’m glad I wrecked at 220 mph, but if I didn’t put myself in that position, I would have done that on Sunday possibly 50 laps into the race,” Busch said.
“That is how you have to advance through life is to learn from your mistakes. It was a mistake that I wholeheartedly put myself in. It’s because I just started to feel comfortable.
“I just let my guard down a little bit and that Indy car jumped up and bit me.”
During his time in Charlotte, both for last weekend’s all-star race and this week for practice and qualifying for the 600, Busch said he’s found many in NASCAR curious of his experience.
“Just like walking through the garage (Thursday) it took 20 minutes for me to go sign in and it’s not because of fans and autographs, even though they are there as well,” Busch explained.
“It’s the other crew chiefs and the other drivers asking about it, wanting to know the differences and to live some of the experience with me.”
On Sunday, from Indianapolis to Charlotte, there will be many more following along.