When Sunday started, Kurt Busch set out to do something that only three people have done before him – the Memorial Day Double by running both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600 in one day.
With both races in the books, Busch didn’t accomplish the goal that he set out to as he only completed 906 miles, but he impressed a lot of people in what he was able to do along the way.
Busch’s day started off at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he finished an impressive sixth in the Indianapolis 500 in his first career open-wheel start.
“What an unbelievable experience,” Busch expressed post-Indy. “It is a dream come true to have an Andretti Autosport car to drive at Indy.”
Busch started the day in 12th in a back-up car that he had limited laps on following a Monday wreck. He would take it easy the first half of the race, dropping as far back as 20th as he let himself settle in. Once he settled in, he worked his way up through the running with passes and avoiding wrecks.
“I’m sure the car was a top five car,” Busch added. “I was on edge those two restarts, making adjustments, trying to find air. I had to lift a little bit in turn two all day. All in all, I’m very pleased. I can’t believe the execution of this team. It’s a team effort, not just an individual. To be able to post a sixth-place finish was beyond my wildest expectations.
“We settled in and ran laps and tried to pace ourselves. I just tried to feel the car all race long. My throat’s real dry because I was smiling the whole time and fresh air was coming in my mouth.”
Car owner Michael Andretti commented post-race that he was proud to have Busch as part of the team for the moment and thought that he did a good job.
“He came in here with the right mindset,” Andretti commented. “He came in with a lot of experience, but still coming in with the mindset of a rookie, like I said. Went to school and was a great student. You could tell the way he ran the first part of the race he fell back, but you could tell he was learning. When he started feeling confident, he started picking them off.
“He told me in the end he thought he had a car capable of doing better, but a rookie driver, I said, You have nothing to be ashamed of. You did a great month the whole month. It was a pleasure having him on our team. I think everybody on the team really liked having him on. Maybe we’ll do it again sometime.”
Busch then headed to Charlotte Motor Speedway where he would start last due to missing the driver’s meeting. Busch began to make his way up through the field, running 13th at halfway.
However, the night began to fell apart when a left rear shock broke following contact on pit road with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Still, Busch surged on and was attempting to complete all the laps when the motor would blow up with 125 laps to go.
“The motor blew. It acted like it was down to three cylinders at all and then it blew out,” Busch commented. “It almost symbolizes how things have been this year on the team. We were beginning to fight back and get up there, and then it just let go. I thought we were making good gain. To feel the stock car right after driving an IndyCar, it was a great experience.
“I can’t let tonight make things disappointing after what happened over in Indianapolis. It takes a team on both sides to make it work. Andretti Autosport gave me a car capable of winning the race, and these guys gave me a great car but it just didn’t work hard. I worked hard, I trained hard. It’s been a memorable experience.”