March 5, 2014

DE LA BASTIDE: Kurt Busch to run Indy 500

It's the latest good news for Indy fans.


---- — It has been a good two weeks for the Indianapolis 500 with several announce­ments that should attract a lot of media and fan attention.

The latest encouraging news came Tuesday when former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch announced that he will be entering the Indy 500 with a car provided by series powerhouse team Andretti Motorsports.

Busch will attempt to become only the fourth driver to compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Others who have accomplished the feat are John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon. Gordon made the last attempt in 2004.

Stewart is the only drive to complete all 1,100 miles of racing, doing so in 2001 when he finished sixth at Indianapolis and third at Charlotte.

Last year Busch completed the rookie orientation program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a car provided by team owner Michael Andretti.

What assists Busch in the effort is the earlier start time for the Indy 500 which should allow plenty of time for the flight back to Charlotte. Cessna is signed on to assist with flights between Indianapolis and Charlotte for the two weekends surrounding the Indianapolis 500 and activities at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

Busch’s decision comes a week after former Indy 500 champion Jacques Villeneuve announced he was returning to compete at the famed oval.

The 2014 Indianapolis 500 also marks the return of former race winner Juan Pablo Montoya to IndyCar.

With the first-ever road course race for IndyCar at IMS scheduled for May 10 along with practice, qualifying and the Indy 500, there should be plenty of buzz in Indianapolis in the month of May.


Aside from Kevin Harvick’s victory last weekend at Phoenix, it has been a rough start to the 2014 season for the Stewart-Haas Racing Team.

Harvick is the only one of the four drivers to record a top-10 finish through the first two races of the year.

Stewart’s best finish has been 16th to go along with a 32nd-place showing. Kurt Busch has finished 21st and 39th and Danica Patrick has started with 40th- and 36th-place finishes.

With NASCAR’s new Chase rule where a win assures a driver a spot in the championship chase, points will not be as crucial as in past years.

By comparison the Hendrick Motorsports team of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne has recorded six top-10 finishes. The Joe Gibbs Racing trio of drivers, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth has three top-10 finishes through the first two races of the year.

Ken de la Bastide may be reached at