Looking back over the top moments of 2014, we find ourselves at #16, and the Memorial Day double attempt by NASCAR ace Kurt Busch.
It has been a long time since someone attempted the “double.”
But with the nod of his NASCAR owners, and the blessing of powerhouse IndyCar team Andretti Autosport, Kurt Busch was able to attempt to complete 1,100 miles on Memorial Day in Indianapolis and Charlotte.
Busch ran a test in an Andretti Autosport prepared DW12 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May of 2013.
At that test he was given direction from Michael Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay, and his performance reaffirmed his desire to race in the Indianapolis 500.
“Just an incredible feeling to be able to drive at Indianapolis in May in and Indy car and have the name Andretti on it. It was a dream come true,” Busch said.
“And with the kid in the candy store feel early on, just getting settled in, that open cockpit is definitely a whole different game when bugs are hitting your visor instead of your windshield, that's just the little small differences.”
The real thing
One year later, Busch found himself making the back and forth trip to and from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the weeks and days leading up the the May 25th challenge.
Avoiding a big wreck on the backstretch, Busch was able to wheel his Andretti Autosport DW12 to a 6th place finish, after starting 12th.
He then raced to the airport, via helicopter for the quick ride to Charlotte, to attempt to finish the Coke 600 on the same day.
“Emotions are high, but the focus is on getting the IVs and settling back in,” Busch said prior to heading to Charlotte.
“I’ve had to block out what’s just happened the last four hours, because I still have more than halfway to go. So it’s a fun challenge. Now, I have to focus on the Cup car, get the feel of that Cup car back underneath me. I love green-flag runs. At Indy it’s great. You can feel the car sliding around. I’m glad the race came to us. The Andretti Autosport guys are brilliant, and it really helped me all the way through this.”
Busch then hopped in his Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet stock car and began the longest race on the NASCAR schedule.
Unfortunaely, he would not be able to complete the full 1,100 miles coming 129 laps short at the Coke 600 with an engine failure.
"It was a challenge I put forth for myself. I enjoyed it. I soaked it in," Busch said after getting out of the car.
"We're not going to let this dampen things. There's still wind in our sails. We'll still sail on off into the sunset."
Busch immediately showed his interest in trying the endeavour again in the future, and as of only last week, he has his team owner Tony Stewart’s blessing.