Busch ready for the Indy 500/Coca-Cola 600 double


The Sports Network

There is no rain in the forecast for the Indianapolis and Charlotte areas on Sunday.

On Thursday night, Busch qualified 28th for the Coca-Cola 600. He then headed to Indianapolis to participate in Friday's final practice for the Indy 500 (Carb Day). Busch will return to Charlotte later in the day for Saturday's Sprint Cup practice sessions and then fly back to Indy. He will start 12th in the Indy 500, driving the No. 26 car for Andretti Autosport.

"I'm doing this for a lot of different reasons," Busch said. "I think motorsports can use the shot in the arm, to go you know what, this is a guy who has never been in an Indy car - we want to watch that race, then we want to follow him to Charlotte to see what he can do down there running that full 600 miles."

John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon have done the Indy/Charlotte double on the same day in the past. Andretti was the first driver to accomplish the feat in 1994.

Stewart, who is Busch's teammate and co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, has done the double twice -- 1999 and 2001. He is the only driver who has completed all 1,100 miles of racing, finishing sixth in the Indy 500 and third in the Coca- Cola 600 in '01.

Gordon attempted the double five times -- 1997, 2000, '02, '03 and '04. When he competed in the Indy 500 ten years ago, the race was stopped after 27 laps due to rain. The lengthy rain delay forced Gordon to miss the rest of the event, as he traveled to Charlotte in time for the start of the race there. Jaques Lazier relieved Gordon at Indy.

Last year, Busch had thoughts of racing in the Indy 500. He passed the rookie orientation for the race, putting into motion the possibility of doing the double, but he eventually chose not to enter it.

Now Busch is ready to not only run in both races but complete all 1,100 miles as well.

"I'm a racer, Tony Stewart is a racer, Robby Gordon is a racer and John Andretti is a racer," he said. "This is a true test of what your commitment level is on being a racer. There are so many practices back and forth, the travel, the logistics. The fun meter is pegged right now. I'm having a blast doing it. You just have to know it comes with a lot of hard work. I encourage others to try it out."

Attempting the double has been a challenge for Busch, but one he has enjoyed. And his fellow Sprint Cup competitors have taken note of it.

"I hope that there is still more to learn and more to experience, and there will be on Sunday," Busch said. "It's still difficult to describe the differences between the two. I've had to keep them very separate.

"Just walking through the garage [at Charlotte], it took 20 minutes for me to go sign in. It's not because of fans and autographs, even though they are there as well. It's the other crew chiefs and the other drivers asking about it, wanting to know the differences and to live some of the experience with me."

Since his announcement of the double in early March, Busch has been working out extensively to improve his upper-body strength. In the days leading up to the Indy 500/Coca-Cola 600, Busch will focus heavily on nutrition.

"It will start [Friday] night with loading up on carbs and almost being at the big fighter weight that you would expect to see a guy with the extra weight, just so that I know that I am going to burn all that off on Sunday," he said.

Busch, who is in his first season as driver of the No. 41 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, is currently 28th in the point standings. On March 30, Busch won at Martinsville, which virtually guaranteed him a spot in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, but he has finished no better than 23rd in the five races since Martinsville.

Parker Kligerman is on standby to drive the No. 41 car if Busch does not arrive at Charlotte in time for the race. Kligerman will also practice for him if needed. Busch is not expected to be here on time to attend the drivers' meeting, which is scheduled to take place two hours before the 600-mile event. If he does miss the drivers' meeting, he would start the race from the rear of the field.

"We are not expecting [Busch] to be at the drivers meeting," Busch's crew chief, Daniel Knost, said. "If he does miss it because of the IndyCar race, then we'll have to go to the back. That's something we've known and we've accepted. The good thing is he'll be fired up and ready to go. He is typically pretty strong, especially at the beginning of a run. I think he'll be looking to move forward and make up the positions that we give away quickly."

Busch won the Coca-Cola 600 in 2010, leading 252 of 400 laps in that race.

Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, May 25. Race: Coca-Cola 600. Site: Charlotte Motor Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 6 p.m. ET. Laps: 400. Miles: 600. 2013 Winner: Kevin Harvick. Television: FOX. Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.

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