INDIANAPOLIS — Kurt Busch wants to race an IndyCar at Indianapolis.
Just not now.
The 2004 Sprint Cup champion kept Ryan Hunter-Reay’s primary car out of trouble Thursday, topping 218 mph on one of the world’s most prestigious tracks. He became the first driver to pass this year’s rookie test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, likely creating a rumor-filled month of May.
“I really couldn’t do it this year because of the stamina,” Busch said. “My hands were tense and firm and that was only after 10 laps. Michael (Andretti) wants to do it, but they’ve already got five cars committed this year, so I think the proper thing would be to get some experience with this car at another track.”
Time is not something Busch can spare right now.
His whirlwind schedule over the past week has taken him to Indy for NASCAR’s tire test, to Talladega where he ended the race by going airborne and landing on Ryan Newman’s car and now off to Darlington Raceway, where Busch will try to pick up an elusive win that he barely missed out on 10 years ago.
In between all the Sprint Cup obligations, Busch still accepted Andretti’s personal offer to try running an IndyCar on the series’ best-known track. He flew back to town Wednesday with his father, got some advice from former Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr., the 2006 Indy winner, and restarted the talk about attempting “the double” — competing in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
John Andretti, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart are the only drivers who have tried to run all 1,100 miles in one day. Stewart had the most success, finishing sixth in Indy and third in Charlotte, N.C., in 2001, and he remains the only driver to ever complete every lap of both races.
Busch might be the next one to try it and has already has three advantages over anyone else who may try to become a late entry in the Indianapolis 500 field: He’s already been fitted for a seat, he has passed his rookie test and he has an interested owner.