CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Even though new Stewart Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch hopes to realize his lifelong dream to race in the Indianapolis 500 this May – and then double up by competing later the same day in NASCAR’s longest race, the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte — count Danica Patrick out of doing the same.
“I love the Indy 500, it’s an amazing event and everybody should go see it at some time,” Patrick said during Monday’s opening of the 32nd NASCAR Media Tour. “But as far as me as a driver, I’m not seeking it out anymore.”
Patrick competed in the 500 seven times in her previous IndyCar career, with a career-best finish of third in 2009. Her last 500 was 2011, when she finished 10th.
She considered attempting to do the fabled “double” last year, but efforts fell short due to logistics, not to mention she was trying to keep her focus solely on her first full season on the Sprint Cup circuit.
“I’m not saying I wouldn’t take the opportunity if I felt like I was in a position to win a race, but after last year when it didn’t work out, I’m no longer trying to make that happen,” she said.
Busch was looking like a kid in a candy store, talking about racing in this year’s 500, during Monday’s NASCAR session.
“It’s grabbing traction again,” Busch said. “It’s through two teams (one being Andretti Autosport and a second unnamed team), through a couple different sponsors, and the intrigue is there for me for something to tackle in life. On the business side, it needs to make sense there, but I’m starting to push the business sense aside and just go and do it and have the fun and to say I ran Indianapolis. It’s grabbing traction and I have the blessing of Gene Haas and Tony Stewart to go and do it.”
Busch, who has also dabbled in drag racing in recent years during time away from Sprint Cup, is feeling optimistic that he’ll be part of this year’s 500 field.
“It’s about 70-30 right now, 70 percent that we’re going to do it” Busch said. “We just have to balance all the things that have to come with it, schedule, sponsorship, the teams. My commitment is there, we don’t have to second-guess that. But I’m going to have to train harder if I’m going to be ready for 1,100 miles in one day.”
Busch may not be the only NASCAR driver at Indianapolis. AJ Allmendinger, back on the Sprint Cup circuit on a full-time basis in 2014 with his new team, JTG Daugherty Racing, is also looking at possibly doing the Memorial Day double.
“There’s always a chance, but it would have to be the right situation,” said Allmendinger, who started fifth and finished seventh racing for Roger Penske in last year’s Indy 500, but did not compete in the 600 later that day. “Obviously, doing it with Roger would be the right situation.
“I’m not a guy that wants to do it just to do it, to say I’ve tried both. I think it’s based first on how this season is going – obviously this is my biggest priority. Tad’s (team owner Tad Geschickter) all for it. When Roger brought the idea up to him initially when we did this deal, Tad was all for it. He said we’d sell a lot of charcoal products on that weekend (one of Allmendinger’s chief sponsors with JTG Daugherty is Kingsford Charcoal).
“I would love to do it. I don’t know with the third car, with Juan (Pablo Montoya) there now, is a possibility. But if it’s the right situation, I’d definitely be interested.”