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May 25, 2014 - 09:24 PM
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Kurt Busch Completes Stellar First Leg Of Indy/Charlotte Double
Posted by: ASkyler on May 25, 2014 - 09:22 PM
Feature Articles
Kurt Busch Completes Stellar First Leg Of Indy/Charlotte Double


CONCORD, N.C.—Kurt Busch left Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the first half of his mission accomplished.

No, Busch didn’t win the Indianapolis 500 in his first attempt, but he matched his current car owner, Tony Stewart, with the best first leg of the Indy/Charlotte double.

"P6!!!!!!!!" Busch’s girlfriend Patricia Driscoll posted to her Twitter account at the end of the race. Busch’s sixth-place result in his Indy debut put him in position to better Stewart’s combined sixth and third in the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600, a feat the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion accomplished in 2001.

Busch completed all 500 miles at Indianapolis, leaving him within reach of another Stewart record. The co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing was the only driver to finish all 1,100 miles of a same-day Indy/Charlotte double.

Busch drove a patient, intelligent race at Indianapolis, biding his time early to get the feel of the car as his crew adjusted the handling to his liking. Over the last 250 miles, Busch worked his way forward and held the sixth spot after a late restart.

 

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Afterwards, he took a helicopter from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a private plane to Concord, N.C., and another helicopter to a smooth landing in the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s tri-oval grass at 4:50 p.m.

"I have to block out what’s just happened the last four hours, because I still have more than halfway to go," Busch said after the Indy 500. "So it’s a fun challenge now. I have to focus on the Cup car, get the feel of that Cup car back underneath me."

(Note: Robby Gordon finished sixth in the Indy 500 in 2000 but arrived late for the Coke 600 because of a rain delay in Indianapolis. P.J. Jones started the 600 for Gordon, who took over the No. 13 car in progress. Jones was credited with a 35th-place finish.)

NO PLACE LIKE HOME?

You could argue that Jimmie Johnson lost his mojo at Charlotte Motor Speedway when the 1.5-mile track was repaved in 2006.

Before that, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at CMS was essentially a home game for the six-time series champion.

Johnson accumulated five of his six Charlotte wins, including one stretch of four straight, before the speedway was resurfaced with durable asphalt. Johnson’s only win since then came in 2009.

Several drivers have commented recently that the track is starting to regain some of its distinctive character as the asphalt continues to age. That could be bad news for Johnson’s adversaries in the Cup series.

"I don’t think it’s there yet," Johnson told the NASCAR Wire Service. "It’s definitely getting rougher and losing some grip. In the (Sprint) All-Star Race (May 17, 2014), we saw that four tires were definitely better than two. So it’s slowly coming.

"Whatever the composition of this asphalt is that they put down, it’s tough. It’s taken a long time to finally give up and get to this point. We’re getting into a sweet spot, and I feel that in the next three to five years it will continue to evolve and get us to where we were before—and provide some great racing.

JEFF GORDON UPDATE

Back spasms suffered during Thursday qualifying cast doubt of Jeff Gordon’s ability to compete in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but as of late Sunday afternoon, Gordon was planning to race all 400 laps.

Continued discomfort forced Gordon to call an early halt to Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice after just 11 laps.

Though Gordon hoped to complete the entire 600 miles on Sunday, NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Regan Smith was standing by in a relief role in case he was needed to driver Gordon’s Sprint Cup car.

Gordon enters the Charlotte race with a consecutive start streak of 736 races, dating to his Cup debut in November 1992. If the streak remains unbroken, Gordon will surpass Ricky Rudd’s series record of 788 straight starts in the 28th race of 2015.

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