Kurt Busch Serious About Indy 500 

When I first heard Kurt Busch was going to test Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Indy car a couple days before practice began for the 97th Indianapolis 500 it seemed like bad timing. Why do we want to focus on a NASCAR star just before IndyCar’s biggest event?

Shouldn’t we be promoting the American who won last year’s championship instead of letting Busch drive his car? If any group needs publicity, it’s IndyCar drivers, not stock car regulars who are watched by millions every weekend.

But after watching Busch breeze through his rookie test and, more importantly, talking to the 2004 Cup champ and hearing his desire to come back next May and do it properly, it changed my mind.

It was good for IndyCar because one of the best in the most popular form of North American motorsports spoke with reverence about what many of us love: the Indy 500 and open wheel racing.

“I couldn't ask for more to have Michael standing there and then (James) Hinchcliffe came and put in his advice," said Busch, who brought his dad along to share the big moment. “To have a driver like Hinch sit there and try to put my mind at ease is one thing. And then you have a legend with Michael telling me what to do, I couldn't have asked for anything better, a treat that can't be equaled to say the least. Maybe an F1 car, but we'll stay right here."

“And with the kid in the candy store feel early on, just getting settled in, that open cockpit is definitely a whole different game when bugs are hitting your visor instead of your windshield and your head is getting buffeted around, that's just the little small differences to a stock car.

“It was just an incredible feeling to be able to drive at Indianapolis in May in an Indy car and have the name Andretti on it. It was a dream come true and I’m thankful for the chance."

Even though it garnered IndyCar more national publicity on a Thursday than it usually gets on a Monday morning, this wasn’t a publicity stunt.

No longer contractually bound to a super team, the tempestuous Busch has raced a dragster and V8 Super Cup car in the past year and he’s damn serious about running Indy in 2014.

His current Cup owner, Barney Visser, showed up Thursday at IMS (along with the whole Furniture Row crew) to support Kurt’s effort and Visser sounded like he might consider even fielding the car.

But, clearly, the best thing about the experience was seeing and hearing what it meant to Busch.

“When we did his seat fitting he sat in the car for about 40 minutes after we were done just soaking things up," said Josh Freud, the chief mechanic for Hunter-Reay. More at speedtv.com

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