As we head into the weekend full of action, the workload on Kurt Busch’s shoulders will pick up with both the Coca Cola 600 and the Indianapolis 500. Multiple trips will be made back and forth as Busch becomes only the fourth driver to tackle the challenge.
“It’s good to be at the NASCAR track today and to jump into Sprint Cup practice and just to give credit and acknowledgement and the time back to the 600 portion of all of this,” Busch commented. “Indy is obviously exciting and new and different and it starts earlier in the month of course as far as preparations. I was on the plane ride back and I’m like you know I’m going to be in my Cup car and be back in the comfort zone and go out for practice on Thursday. That is going to feel fun. I’m really excited about getting in the car today and shaking down the car, making laps, then try to tailor the set-up around finding the right comfort zone that we will need for a full 600 miles.”
So far things haven’t gone smoothly for Busch on either side as he wrecked the car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this week, and only managed to qualify 28th for the Coca Cola 600.
Busch says the wreck on Monday happened as a result of trying to get comfortable with making some adjustments in the car and not staying on top of turns one and two as he needs to.
“The south end of the track is different than the north end of the track there. The wind angle was at the most different, awkward angle that I’ve had during the whole month of May,” he expressed. “Turn 2 bit me. I’m glad that I experienced it. I might sound stupid, by staying 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. That is how you have to advance through life is to learn from your mistakes. It was a mistake that I whole heartedly 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.”
Busch has acknowledged that each presents a unique challenge, but has yet to find the proper words to describe the challenge that they each present to him.
“It’s just still hard to put it all into words,” Busch commented. “The Indy car demands a lot of respect and you are on that razor blade edge when you are out there driving. Everything is very precise. It’s almost like being a surgeon. When you are out there by yourself trying to qualify at 230 mph it’s different than what it is in the draft in the dirty air. They call it a tow. When you are in the tow up there and following other guys around in the groove for race pace it’s not just wide open all the way around like some people would think.”
Busch says those differences made him feel like a ‘fish out of water’ while running his qualifying lap for the all-star race last weekend.
“‘I’m making way too many wheel movements, throttle inputs, steering inputs, I’m just all over the place. I’ve got to let the stock car do its normal flow.’,” Busch commented. “You have to let the car move before you react to it. In IndyCar you can react to it right away. It’s very precise with the Indy car, the stock car you have to let it flow.”
Getting ready for this challenge hasn’t been all fun and games as Busch has done a lot of training in anticipation for the weekend, stressing that upper body strength is important and he has been working on his core strength over the past six months.
“It’s to be able to use your core to not over exert your arms or to have your legs cramp up. It’s to be as prepared as you can be for the marathon portion of this,” Busch said. “The demands from driving both cars are the same on the body it’s just I have to be ready to do 1100 miles. Running to the gym, keeping my heart rate elevated while I’m there, doing martial arts type of activity in a boot camp style formula to where as it keeps your heart rate up for that full hour and then run back home from the gym.”
Busch added that this week, the nutrition portion has come in with keeping a low carb diet while maintaining the protein level the first part of the week. Then tomorrow night, he will load up on carbs so that way he has the extra weight to burn off on Sunday without getting worn out.
Some have questioned whether doing the double is a great idea, and there are questions whether if more people will attempt it if Busch is successful. Busch says the success level isn’t what matters, but the fact that he, Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon and John Andretti are “racers” that will run anything and everything.
“This is a true test of what your commitment level is on being a racer,” he commented. “There are so many practices back and forth, the travel, the logistics’; the fun meter is pegged right now. 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. At the end of the day though motorsports to me is my family, it’s my home. On the NASCAR side I’ve been here 15 years.
“I always open the USA Today or click on different websites for Memorial Day weekend and it’s about our military and the red, white and blue all the time. But Memorial Day weekend is a time for motorsports to shine. It starts with Monaco it goes through Indy and it ends here in Charlotte. 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 go you know what this is a guy that has never been in an Indy car we want to watch that race then we want to follow him to Charlotte to see what he can do down there running that full 600 miles.”