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Busch Blinks, Hits Wall During Practice At Indy

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 20 2014

Kurt Busch was introduced to the walls at Indianapolis on Monday.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Kurt Busch admittedly made a rookie mistake Monday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where an extra day of practice for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 bit him in the backside.

Busch brought out a yellow flag 95 minutes into a five-hour session when his No. 26 Suretone Dallara/Honda made right-side contact with the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier. Busch was checked out at the IU Health Infield Medical Center at IMS and cleared to drive – and to reconsider his approach to “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on Sunday.

“I was starting to feel comfortable,” said Busch, who had just completed a lap of 223.433 mph (his 56th). “That’s when I made the mistake of just letting my guard down or settling into that long run-type mentality, whereas with an Indy car you have to be on-edge. You have to keep track of where you are at all times and adjustments in the car. Maybe I just didn’t keep up with keeping the car underneath me.”

The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Busch qualified 12th in the 33-car field last weekend for the 200-lapper. Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt “The Double” on Sunday, competing in the Indy 500 and later flying to Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., for the Coca-Cola 600. Busch is aiming to become the first driver to complete all 1,100 miles since three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart – Kurt’s NASCAR car-owner at Stewart-Haas Racing – did so in 2001.

Next on-track activity for the Verizon IndyCar Series is Friday’s traditional 60-minute Carb Day session, the final practice before Race Day. “We still have Carb Day to shake things down and get back in the groove,” said Busch, who is driving at IMS for Andretti Autosport. “This created a lot of work for the Andretti guys. I feel bad for that. As a rookie, there’s things you learn and put it up on the edge and get away with and then there’s times when it will bite you. It’s just tough.

“I thought I was finding a rhythm and settling into that long run type pace and learning the tows and the draft and I didn’t keep track of the adjustments of the car. Just trying to settle-in and not make mistakes, and I just made a mistake.”

The 33 starters turned a cumulative total of 2,329 laps. Josef Newgarden, who qualified eighth in the No. 67 Hartman Oil/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Dallara/Honda, was fastest with a lap at 39.6292-seconds/227.105 mph. Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2000 Indy 500 champion who qualified 10th, was second-fast at 226.532 mph in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet.

Owner/driver Ed Carpenter, who won his second consecutive Verizon P1 Award Sunday during the Fast Nine Shootout, logged 49 laps with a top speed of 224.492 mph in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Dallara/Chevrolet. “I feel good about where our cars are in race trim,” said Carpenter, who is teamed at IMS with JR Hildebrand. “(But) you can always use one more solid day of practice just to tune on things, get a little better, make sure both myself and JR are happy.”

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 20 2014
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