Last year during his test at IMS with Andretti Autosport, Kurt Busch said that he had been “bitten by the bug”. That bug, is the legendary speedway, which has bitten millions of fans over the last century. On Tuesday, Kurt revealed that he would be driving for Michael Andretti’s team in this year’s Indianapolis 500. He will attempt to make the race, then fly to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the NASCAR race that is set to begin six hours after the start of the race in Indy. Only one driver has ever completed “The Double”, and that of course is Kurt’s new boss, Tony Stewart. Working with Tony and being a mentor to Sam Hornish Jr will aid in Kurt’s efforts to fulfill his motor racing dream.
It is believed that Kurt will drive the number 26 car that Carlos Munoz drove in the race last year, when he started and finished in second place. Kurt said he already has a few sponsors on board, but more are sure to come following his announcement. As expected, the buzz sent shockwaves through the motorsports world, as a NASCAR Cup champion has decided that this is something that he must try. He knows it won’t be easy, and he knows it might not work out the way he wants it to, but he is going to give it his all, and he is going to enjoy everything that comes with it.
The ROP/Refresher sessions that take place just before official practice for the 500 will feature an incredible amount of talent and achievement. You’ll have a NASCAR champion, a Formula 1 champion, and 2 former 500-winners in Juan Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve. This will be the first time each of them return to this race after winning it in their respective years. So along with Tony Kanaan, there will be three defending Indy 500 winners in this year’s field. On top of that, there will be at least 19 drivers in the field that have won an IndyCar race. There will also be at least six former 500 winners, seven open wheel champions to contend with.
Does this lead to more NASCAR drivers (Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, etc) to attempt this difficult task? Does it “move the needle” and get more eyeballs on TV and more butts in the stands? Does it validate that IndyCar drivers are truly the best drivers in the world? Who knows, who cares. These are things that you and I can not control, and therefore shouldn’t be worried about. What it does mean though, is that this year’s field is going to be full of intrigue, full of talent, and full of surprises. After all, it’s Indy, in May – it’s always going to be a good time.