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NASCAR Cup Series

Morning Tweets from the Brickyard 400

It’s a rare two-day Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with practices today at 9 and 11 a.m. and qualifying at 6:15 p.m., followed by the Brickyard 400 on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Here’s what the racers were saying Saturday morning at IMS, when the track opened for the first round of Cup practice.

https://twitter.com/FordPerformance/status/888744895678210053

Categories
XFINITY

New Race Package in Place at Indianapolis

There will be a new race package for July’s XFINITY Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as announced by NASCAR on Thursday.

The new package consists of three modifications that NASCAR hopes will improve competition at the 2.5-mile oval.

The Indy package was created after Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, and Kaulig Racing participated in a test in October at IMS.

Specifically designed for Indianapolis, the modifications consist of a taller rear spoiler and splitter package, aeroducts on the lower front bumper area, and a 7/8th-inch restrictor plate currently used for superspeedway events at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

“We (develop) the analytical package and come to some conclusions,” Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR Senior Vice President, Innovation and Racing Development,  “But then we also need to go on the track and verify this. So this approach has been a two-step approach, analytical creation of the package and then on-track verification.

“We race at 29 tracks (across all three national series), and they’re all very special,” Stefanyshyn added. “Indianapolis has a long history; it’s a wonderful track. Our objective is to give our fans the best possible show we can. We are very proud of being able to participate at Indy; we want to put our best foot forward. We believe we have come up with a package that gives us the best opportunity to do that.”

Aeroducts will also make their debut during the July event at IMS. NASCAR hopes these will create more horsepower for trailing cars, allowing more passing.

“We saw the cars were closer together, but we weren’t able to create some passing until we introduced the aeroducts,” he said. “That’s the main purpose of the ducts, to give the trailing car more of an advantage … we always hear about clean air and how the leader has clean air. Our objective here is to try to give the trail car more benefit.”

Stefanyshyn added without the aeroducts, cars running down long straightaways such as those at IMS hit a wall of air, which creates “a significant horsepower deficit” when they get within approximately one car-length of the lead car.

The NXS has competed at IMS since 2012, and the lack of competitive races has been a major concern to not only NASCAR but IMS Speedway officials as well.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., co-owner of JR Motorsports says he is intrigued to see how the changes will work.

“I’m curious to see (the changes),” he said. “I think NASCAR sees this as an idea on how to fix racing in general at Indianapolis.”

At this time NASCAR says there are no plans to put this package in place at any other track or in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

 EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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IndyCar Open Wheel

A Career in Motorsports Journalism and PR

For more than 40 years, Michael Knight has been in the motorsports field as a journalist and public relations representative. He’s worked with a variety of people in the auto racing industry and has developed friendships with some racing legends along the way.

In the 1960s, he grew up rooting for his racing hero, Jimmy Clark, a two-time winner of the Formula One World Championship. He remembers watching Clark win the Indianapolis 500 with Team Lotus.

“At the time, what you did was go to major movie theaters, which showed the Indy 500 on a closed circuit TV,” Knight said. “So there I saw Jimmy Clark win the 1965 Indy 500.”

Later in the 1960s, Knight’s interest for motorsport grew from F1 and IndyCar and extended into other forms of racing.

“By this time, I was following Formula One, IndyCar, NASCAR, and sports car,” he recalled.

In 1974, he became a writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He grew up in the city and got his degree in journalism at Temple University, so it was only fitting he would be a reporter there.

He covered motorsports for the newspaper and wrote many stories about a local racing champion from Nazareth, Pa. named Mario Andretti.

“One of the first names I became aware of was Mario’s,” he said. “Nazareth is an hour and a half to the northeast of Philadelphia. When I started at the Daily News, the coverage from a motorsport standpoint treated Mario as a local story.”

Over the years, he got to know Andretti as a friend and said he wrote many news pieces about him throughout his career.

“I spent a lot of time with Mario and wrote a lot of stories about him,” Knight said. “I was covering when he won the World Championship of Formula One in 1978 and wrote a lot of stories in that year, especially.”

When the CART Series formed after the split from USAC in late 1978, CART co-founder Roger Penske helped Knight get a prominent role in the newly-formed series.

Knight was hired to be the first ever director of communications for CART in 1980 and relocated to Bloomfield Hills, Mich. to accept the position.

In 1983, Andretti signed with Newman/Haas Racing and Knight became involved with the Anheuser-Busch brewing company, which sponsored Andretti’s car.

“At that time, Budweiser was a major sponsor in a variety of racing series and had primary sponsorship for Paul Newman and Carl Haas,” Knight said. “I was looking out for almost all the Budweiser racing involvements, and my primary responsibility became that program with Newman/Haas.

“It wasn’t just because of my background with IndyCar racing and CART but it was because it was Paul Newman and Mario.”

1985-paul-newman

(Knight and Newman at the 1985 Indianapolis 500)

Knight worked with the team through the 1980s into the 1990s. In the late ‘90s after Andretti’s retirement from racing, Knight took interest in the marketing boom that was occurring in NASCAR.

He felt it was the right time to leave American open-wheel racing and venture into stock car racing. Sponsorship was deemphasized in CART and thriving in NASCAR.

“I had the opportunity in 1999 to become the national motorsports media consultant of Valvoline so I was working on the NASCAR program with Roush Racing and Mark Martin as the driver,” Knight said. “That was a big deal … It was obvious to me the situation in IndyCar was on a decline.

“It was just a good time to get involved in another series on an active basis.”

Today, Knight lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. and does motorsports coverage for the state’s largest news publication, The Arizona Republic. In 2016, he wrote about all events happening at Phoenix International Raceway, including the two NASCAR race weekends, the return of the Verizon IndyCar Series after an 11-year hiatus, and the $178 million renovation plan for the track.

He is also the chairman for the Jim Chapman Award of Excellence in Motorsports Media Relations. The award honors a public relations person in motorsports annually and is considered the highest honor in racing PR.

Chapman was a journalist for The New York Times before serving in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. He then became the PR director for Ford Motor Co. in 1946 and became a prominent PR figure in IndyCar racing starting in 1967. He created the award in 1991, five years before his death.

“Jim was a very dear friend of mine,” Knight said. “Some people have mistakenly characterized Jim as a second father to me or my mentor, but the best way to say it is that we were very close friends and I learned so much about the business of public relations not just from a motorsports standpoint but PR from an industry-wide basis.”

Originally, the award was given to people who worked specifically in CART, but it’s now eligible for anyone in racing PR. Knight won the first award in 1991.

He also unveiled a permanent Jim Chapman award in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center. A 30-pound, bronze-casted plaque is on display in the building.

“If you’re going to have something with Jim Chapman’s name on it, you couldn’t put a piece of junk up on the wall,” he said of the plaque. “Jim would’ve come down from heaven and smack me on the head for doing that.”

Knight hopes that it will be seen by all media people in the years to come, and one day hopes that other displays will be made so he can be honored at other tracks nationwide.

He believes excellence in public relations and journalism in racing is crucial to the sport, and it has served him well throughout his distinguished career.

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Commentary

Rapid Reaction: Don’t Stop Me Now

Total domination. That’s the only way to describe Kyle Busch’s weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The defending Sprint Cup Series champion totally outclassed his competition Saturday and Sunday, leading 211 of a possible 233 laps around the Brickyard, and was never passed during either race.

Busch’s performance on Sunday was one for the record books on a day that will be forever remembered as the final race at Indianapolis for Cup champions Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart.

Record Year

Kyle Busch started Sunday’s Brickyard 400 with an opportunity to do something that hadn’t been done in NASCAR history — sweep both poles and races in a single weekend. After leading all but one lap en route to his 83rd career XFINITY Series win, Busch appeared poised to be the driver to beat for the second straight year.

Busch kept his No. 18 Toyota seemingly an arm’s length away from the field. In fact, the first on-track pass for the lead occurred on Lap 62, when Busch drove around Joey Logano on a restart. From that point on, it was all Kyle, all the time, as he led a record-setting 149 laps and collected the fifth Brickyard victory for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Thanks for the Memories

The biggest story line coming to Indy was knowing it would be Tony Stewart’s final NASCAR start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After they qualifyied third, hopes were sky high for the No. 14 team after a runner-up finish last week in New Hampshire.

In the driver’s meeting, Jeff Gordon honored Stewart before both drivers’ final race at Indy.

“I know as we’ve gotten to know one another as friends and competitors over the years what this place means to you,” Gordon said. “I think that it’s not a year about saying goodbye. It’s a year about celebrating what you’ve done on the track and off the track. I think it’s only fitting that all of us in this room, and along with all the millions of fans around the world, recognize what you’ve brought to this sport.”

Smoke made a daring three-wide pass inside Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards to grab second place on the race’s second lap. Unfortunately for Stewart, that would be the high-water mark in Sunday’s event, as tight handling conditions prevented him from racing for the win, and he came home 11th.

After the checkered flag, Stewart and Gordon, substituting for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr., performed one final lap side-by-side around IMS, a fitting tribute for two NASCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway heroes.

Maybe Next Year

Despite being the all-time leader in Indianapolis 500 wins with 16, Roger Penske came to the 23rd Brickyard 400 without a Sprint Cup win at IMS.

Knowing they likely didn’t have the speed to win the race, the teams of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski deployed an aggressive fuel mileage strategy. Both drivers stretched their first tank of fuel 42 laps, putting them in position to make the race on just three stops.

Sometimes even the best plans don’t come to fruition. That was the case Sunday, as ill-timed yellows put Keselowski in the middle of the pack, and he finished 17th. Logano restarted on the front row for overtime but dropped back to seventh at the checkers.

Penske’s teams are now a combined 0-for-44 in the Brickyard 400 with an average finish of 15.9.

One More Go Round

Five-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon made his highly anticipated return to NASCAR in relief for Hendrick Motorsports regular Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The four-time Sprint Cup champion started in 21st and struggled in the early going. By Lap 50, Gordon was mired back in 24th. During a round of green-flag stops, Gordon short-pitted and gained track position and was just outside the top 10. With in-car temperatures exceeding 110 degrees, Gordon’s return came in brutal conditions, and he brought the No. 88 home in 13th.

Next week Gordon will return to Pocono Raceway, where he holds the record for most victories with six.

EMAIL HANK AT editors@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Jeb Burton Strong At Indy After Two-Month Hiatus

When Richard Petty Motorsports announced in late May that its No. 43 Ford no longer had adequate funding to compete in the XFINITY Series, it left Jeb Burton without a ride.

Burton was a Chase contender at the time, sitting 11th in the standings with four top-15 finishes in 11 races. But now he’s missed six races in the last two months and has dropped to 19th, 114 points behind the 12th-place cutoff.

Although the 23-year-old likely won’t be able to compete for the 2016 XFINITY championship, a two-race deal with Biagi-DenBeste Racing to drive the No. 98 Ford was announced earlier this month.

Burton made his debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the part-time team on Saturday. The No. 98, which won the Daytona night race on the July 4th weekend with Aric Almirola behind the wheel, made its first start since the victory, lining up 11th in the Lilly Diabetes 250.

As he did with RPM in the first third of the season, Burton ran in the top 15 and ended up 12th in the 63-lap event.

“It was a good day,” Burton told CATCHFENCE.COM. “We struggled early in the race but Jon [Hanson] (crew chief) made a good adjustment, and the team had a nice stop which gave me what I needed to get up on the wheel a little more.”

On the final caution after a wreck involving Ray Black Jr. and Harrison Rhodes, Burton was one lap down, but thanks to the free pass, he finished the day on the lead lap.

“When the caution came out there at the end, I was able to get up to the lucky dog spot which locked us in twelfth,” Burton said. “I really appreciate the support from Estes and the opportunity from Biagi-DenBeste Racing.”

Burton will pilot the No. 98 for Biagi-DenBeste at Richmond in September. After Saturday’s event, he tweeted:

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Racing Product Still a Mystery After High Downforce Practice

INDIANAPOLIS — Following the first full day of practice for the Brickyard 400 and its new high downforce, high drag competition package, the jury is still out concerning what kind of racing fans will be treated to come Sunday afternoon.

NASCAR made a judgement call last month when the Sanctioning Body decided to abandon its standard aerodynamic package in favor of track specific technical regulations for five Sprint Cup events. For Indianapolis and Michigan, NASCAR has mandated the higher drag package that includes a nine-inch spoiler, one-inch wicker bill, two-inch splitter leading edge and a 43-inch radiator pan.

The goal was to create a slipstream that would allow a following driver to gain up to five miles per hour on the leading car while in the draft and complete a pass going into the corners.

After nearly five hours of practice, the end result still remains a mystery and will likely stay that way until 43 cars dive into Turn 1 on Sunday.

Denny Hamlin was fastest in the opening round of single car practice and said that despite the changes, it will still be difficult for drivers to pass during the race itself.

“We’re trying something new,” Hamlin said. “I can’t fault them for trying. They tried what we wanted to try and I thought we had a pretty successful race (using the low downforce package at Kentucky) and now we’re trying something different.

“We’ll see if it’s better or not.”

Regardless of the rules, the challenges remain the same for using stock cars on a track that has evolved as a circuit for open wheel cars. It has no significant banking and there is only one preferred line — at the bottom of the surface.

As a result, it is just difficult to get side-by-side with a rival driver and maintain that position entering the corners where passing typically occurs during most NASCAR events.

This package will most likely shine brightest on restarts when cars are inherently side-by-side, punching an even larger hole in the air with the enormous spoiler and wicker extensions. Jamie McMurray won the Brickyard 400 in 2010 and said drivers will gain a massive amount of speed when coming up on a side-by-side battle off a restart.

“To me on Sunday when you get two cars side-by-side with this package, the guy in third is going to have an extra engine,” McMurray said. “It’s going to be crazy the amount of speed that he is going to have.

“So I don’t know — the restarts are going to be pretty wild, I think.”

NASCAR simulation data has shown that the following car should pick up about 100 horsepower as a result.

So while the package does allow for a second place car to gain rapidly on the leader, it doesn’t provide an answer for what to do if the battle has not been resolved by the end of a straightaway. During the second practice session, Kyle Busch got bottled up behind Tony Stewart and never could complete the pass.

Lap after lap, Busch zipped to the rear bumper of Stewart but couldn’t get around him. There was just no room to complete the pass and the aero push was just too intense. So while NASCAR continues to work on a solution to increase track action, it appears the same ole problems will continue to present themselves at the Racing Capitol of the World.

“Still, this is a very tough race track,” Hamlin said. “This is a one groove race track where it’s definitely been tough to pass here for 15 years or as long as I’ve been here.

“It’s just going to be one of those tough tracks.”

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

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Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

ICYMI: The Top-Five Stories From Indianapolis Motor Speedway

By Kayla Darrow ­­– Sunday’s running of the Brickyard 400 proved to be one for the history books. The race was full of varying pit strategies, making it hard to determine who would come out on top. In the end, it was @JeffGordonWeb who overcame multiple obstacles to capture his fifth Brickyard win.

In case you missed it, here are the top-five storylines to come from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

A13931. Gordon makes history: Twenty years after capturing his first Brickyard 400 win, Jeff Gordon returned to victory lane for the second time this season after a long battle out on the track. He started the day off strong in the second position and spent most of the race running in the top-10. Gordon did struggle with his restarts, often spinning his tires and falling back. However, when it mattered most, he pulled off a fantastic restart against then race leader @KaseyKahne and drove away with the win.

A6022. Penske Racing is still winless at Indy: While Team Penske may be known for having success at IMS in the Indy Car Series, it still remains winless there with NASCAR. Despite bringing in @JPMontoya to join Brad @Keselowski and @JoeyLogano, Team Penske still came up short. Keselowski struggled all race long with a tight racecar before finishing 12th. Montoya, while starting up in the eight place, dropped back quickly and finished a disappointing 23rd. Logano, Penske’s top finishing driver, placed fifth but still lacked whatever the team needed to bring home a win.

A8923. @DanicaPatrick’s day is cut short: After starting 14th, Danica Patrick looked to be having a solid day at the track. She kept her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet in the top-15 for the entire race before bad luck struck. Patrick was leaving pit road around Lap 67 when her right rear axle broke and sent her to the garage for repairs. Patrick and her team did return to the track, but were 28 laps down. She would go on to finish in the 42nd position, 46 laps down.

A9674. @DennyHamlin climbs through the field: Denny Hamlin had quite the race Sunday when he finished third after starting back in 27th position. Hamlin and his team played with pit strategy for most of the race, staying out when the majority of the field went in, allowing him to gain huge amounts of track position. This is Hamlin’s third straight top-10 finish of the season and provides the team with some momentum with the Chase quickly approaching.

NOTE: In post-race tech inspection, it was found that there were “several rear firewall block off plates.” NASCAR has confiscated the questionable parts and will evaluate at the R&D Center in Concord, NC.

A10295. @Tbayne21 spins out at the Brickyard: Trevor Bayne’s plan to make his last Brickyard 400 with Wood Brothers Racing a good one fell short Sunday when his right rear tire went down, sending him flying into the guard rail. He started the race in the 20th spot and was battling an extremely loose racecar before the accident happened. With his day cut short, Bayne finished in the 43rd position, not at all the result he was hoping for.

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Uncategorized

Kurt Busch Reflects on Indy 500 Saturday Qualifying

By Matt Weaver (SPEEDWAY, Ind.) — Kurt Busch fulfilled a lifelong dream on Saturday afternoon, officially qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 for Andretti Autosport.

Busch was safely inside the top-9 — those eligible for the Sunday pole position shootout — when he left for Charlotte Motor Speedway to compete in the All-Star Race. He was later bumped by Juan Pablo Montoya in the final hour of Saturday qualifying and ultimately finished the day in 10th.

As a result, Busch will come back on Sunday morning, looking to qualify anywhere from 10th-to-33rd.

All told, Busch now has the chance to win roughly $4 million in prize money over the next week as a result of chasing victories in the All-Star Race, Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 combined. It’s a fact not lost on the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.

“I’ve got to be able to start the Charlotte race,” Busch said. “There’s a million bucks down there. It’s been an experience — the month of May in an Indy car. It’s really hard to digest at all. The chance to qualify is one thing but to do it in an Andretti car is another.”

Busch said that his two qualifying attempts, eight laps and 20 miles, was the most unnerving experience that he’s ever had in a race car and completely different from his qualifying experiences in NASCAR.

“If we end up outside of the top-9, I know I gave it my all and it was a really neat experience to go against the car myself and pick up speed,” Busch said before hopping on a plane for Charlotte. “The way you have to challenge a track for a NASCAR run is you have to have the most downforce and the car has to have to have the most grip level.

“Here at Indy, you take all the grip away and you take all the downforce — you make the car as uncomfortable as you can make it. And then they tack on three extra laps so you’re doing 10 miles.”

Now Busch travels to Charlotte where he hopes to start his official Double experience by winning the All-Star Race, an event he won back in 2010. Busch will again travel back on forth next Sunday when he attempts both the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and NASCAR’s longest race — the Coke 600.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Drivers Largely Uninterested in Running Indy 500

By Matt Weaver (TALLADEGA, Ala.) — Could the changes to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship format and possible success by Kurt Busch in the Indianapolis 500 entice more Stock Car drivers to try their hands at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing?

Not so fast says six-time and defending champion Jimmie Johnson who says that stock car drivers have always had the opportunity to attempt the May double but have ignored it largely out of apathy to open-wheel and Indy car style racing.

“I think the opportunity has been there and I’m not sure that a lot of stock car drivers have the desire to run open-wheel,” Johnson said. “That’s probably been the limiting factor. I know that at one point in time, manufacturers had supplier issues that prevented me from going. You can certainly get the sponsors and people to get everything approved.”

Johnson had long expressed an interest in competing in the Indy 500 and says the possibility remained strong up until he and his wife, Chandra, had children.

“In my situation, I have a wife that would have to approve me going to Indy,” Johnson said. “We had a deal that prior to having children, I could. And I didn’t get my opportunity before having kids.”

Johnson also says that the start times for the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 just make it especially difficult to run both races on one day. Sunday May 25 will be the busiest day of racing in North America with the Indy 500 starting at Noon and the Charlotte NASCAR race starting at 6 p.m.

“The start time was the big problem there,” Johnson said. “You couldn’t physically do both the way the start times worked out. I hope that encourages others. I think as a race fan, I look forward to that weekend to see who does the double and watch that much racing from Monaco all the way through to the NASCAR event.”

Johnson’s teammate, Kasey Kahne, cut his teeth in the competitive USAC open-wheel environment and always coveted a chance to compete in the Indianapolis 500. But his career took him towards full-bodied stock cars instead and now, Kahne believes there are just too many variables that work against Sprint Cup drivers who would want to compete amongst the fastest 33.

“I think it all kind of depends on where you’re at with the Sprint Cup Series, how you feel about it, what you’ve done in the Cup Series and how your sponsor and owner feel about it,” Kahne told Popular Speed on Friday. “There are so many things that would have to line up to do both races. I’m looking forward to watching Kurt.”

Kahne explained that he was always a fan of watching drivers like John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon attempt to run the double and believes that Kurt Busch has a legitimate shot to contend.

“I think it’s going to be great. He’s going to do a real good job in both races,” Kahne said. “You know, that’s kind of a dream of mine at times was to try to do the double and now to see Kurt do it would be pretty awesome.”

Joey Logano drives for Team Penske, one of the elite three organizations in the IndyCar Series, for their NASCAR operation. He doesn’t see a scenario, at least right now, where he would want to make that jump and try racing an IndyCar.

“Not in the near future,” Logano told Popular Speed. “I don’t see myself doing it. I won’t say never but not right now. It would be a distraction from what I’m trying to do on the Sprint Cup side and focusing on something that I may not even be good at.”

So unless Busch has overwhelming success and opens the floodgates, he may be the last active Cup driver for a while to attempt the Indianapolis 500. Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse have left the door open but the same door is seemingly shut and locked amongst current veterans not named, ‘Busch.’

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Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Kurt Busch Indy 500 Paint Scheme Revealed

By Matt Weaver — Suretone Records will back Kurt Busch in his attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 next month, Andretti Autosport announced on Monday while also unveiling the paint scheme that the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion will pilot during the month of May.

Busch will drive a gray and black No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda and hopes to become just the fourth driver to compete in the Memorial Day Weekend “Double” — the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 Sprint Cup Series event on the same day.

“It’s an exciting day,” Busch said. “Reality is setting in that this is real and it’s go time. For me, it’s a dream come true, but the kid in a candy store moment is all behind me. Now it’s the focus of practice time and settling in with Andretti Autosport. Just to have Andretti Autosport and to have Michael (Andretti) himself involved, this is the right way to do things. Their team experience will help lead my inexperience.”

MORE: IndyCar Paddock Prepares to Welcome Busch to Indianapolis

Despite ultimately losing the race to Tony Kanaan and KV Racing Technology last season, Andretti Autosport had the best overall team effort in last year’s running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. An Andretti rookie, Carlos Munoz, finished second in the race, adding credence to the belief that Busch can walk into Indianapolis Motor Speedway next month and contend for the win.

One of his teammates at Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, recently told Open Wheel Now that he believes Busch has a legitimate shot at winning the race, mostly due to the fact that he is in AA equipment.

“I think we’re going to be strong in the race and I think we’ve showed that the past couple of years,” Hinchcliffe said. “(Busch is) a professional. He has more professional races under his belt than the rest of the field combined with as many races as NASCAR runs and I’m sure he’s going to adapt pretty quickly.”

Busch is expected to make over 10 trips between Indianapolis and Charlotte over the next 30 days so he can practice and qualify for the Indianapolis 500 while also maintaining his busy NASCAR schedule. As for the race itself, Busch will start the 500-mile event (should he qualify, a near certainty) at noon ET in Indianapolis and have to be strapped into his Sprint Cup car, in Charlotte, before 6 p.m. ET for the Coca-Cola 600.

Suretone is relatively new music label and entertainment enterprise, founded in 2006, which handles a variety of different multimedia business ventures. It was founded by longtime Geffen Records president Jordan Schur.

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