INDIANAPOLIS — NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch completed the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program during a test Thursday, May 9 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, reaching a top speed of 218.210 mph in an Andretti Autosport car.
But Busch is still taking a cautious approach toward any thoughts of participating in "The Double" of racing in the 97th Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 26.
"I need to get more comfortable in the Indy car because on a day like today, I'm white-knuckle, my hands were tense and firm, and that was only after 10 laps," Busch said. "And so then it started to settle in.
"So there's the mental side of it, there's the physical side, there's the sponsorship side that has to come together, and right now with Kyle Moyer (general manager, Andretti Autosport) looking sideways at Michael, Michael wants to do it, but they've already got five cars committed to trying to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 this year.
"To crawl, then walk, and then walk and then run, I think the proper thing is to go out and experience this car at another oval track and get into a race and experience what the buffeting is and the movement of the car when all the downforce changes."
Busch completed the Rookie Orientation Program in which all drivers must participate to compete in Indianapolis 500 practice and qualifying, under the supervision of INDYCAR officials. Busch fulfilled all three phases of the program: 10 laps at 200-205 mph, 15 laps at 205-209 mph and 15 laps at 210-plus mph.
Busch, Las Vegas native, totaled 83 laps on the day in the No. 1 DHL Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone that reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay will drive in the Indianapolis 500.
Andretti Autosport team owner and Indianapolis 500 legend Michael Andretti and Andretti Autosport driver James Hinchcliffe, a winner of two of this season's four races, assisted Busch during the test.