Once Kurt Busch is done racing this weekend at Kansas Speedway, focus will shift to the Memorial Day double as Kurt Busch will begin the process of preparing for the Indianapolis 500. Busch will hit the track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday for practice, followed by qualifying next weekend, and then the Indianapolis 500 on May 25th. In the midst of that, Busch will also be running the All-Star race, while preparing for the Coca Cola 600 that he runs after the 500.
“The excitement is building up,” he expressed. “It’s been great all this whole month. Just over the past year of putting two competitive contracts together, I have a chance to win with an Andretti Autospot car and I’ve got a chance to win the Coke 600 with a Stewaart-Haas car. At the end of the day there still is a full second half of this double. There’s a stock car race. There’s a 600-mile event where I’ll be driving the Haas-Automation Chevy and this team here that I’m with, they’re rooting me on but I still have my job to do when I show up. And there has to still be a lot of focus around the stock car side of this.”
Busch has begun his process for the Indianapolis 500, passing the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Refresher Program last week, while taking part in the rookie practice session.
“It’s been a good confidence builder all through the few days I’ve been in the car,” he said. “And Andretti Autosport had done a tremendous job in allowing me to roll as a rookie and to feel the comfort levels each time we go out in the car and not overstep anything that’s asked me to do too much as a newbie.”
Busch says the biggest surprise so far has been how open everybody has been in the IndyCar garage.
“I would say the open arms and the feel in the paddock of the IndyCar guys and team owners and other sponsors and the drivers; it’s been an amazing welcome to our garage area,” Busch commented.
As Busch has been preparing, he has leaned on people for advice, including his Sprint Cup co-owner Tony Stewart.
“He said you know the IndyCars have less horsepower,” Busch said. “They have less pick-up, acceleration, and feel even though the cars weigh 1500 pounds, IndyCars don’t accelerate like stock cars do. So you have to look ahead. You have to anticipate. You have to digest what’s happening in front of you when guys get side-by-side, how quick you’re going to catch them.”
Beyond on-track preparing, Busch has been going through some off-track physical training, saying that having upper-body strength will be important.
“On the physical side of it, my hands have been very sore after each of the practice sessions just from the death grip on the wheel,” he commented. “I need to relax more and just let the car come to me instead of me forcing the car. So, it’s just getting comfortable with the driver controls and knowing where everything is around me.”
Looking at the weekend ahead, Busch says the goal is simple – complete all 1100 miles that lay ahead with the double.
Before all that fun begins, Kurt Busch will first tackle Kansas Speedway this weekend, where he was 12th in final practice.
“This place is fast and it’s a matter of getting the car setting into the corner the right way to where you don’t lose a lot of speed getting back to the gas,” he commented. “I see the way the test speeds have shown, we’re probably not going to be out of the gas all the way. And so we’re going to be holding a lot of throttle in the car, and hopefully the car doesn’t step out on you. With the wind direction here, that changes; looks like today we have a wind blowing towards Turn 2. That will make Turn 2 the toughest corner when you cross over into a headwind.”