Preparing for Indy-Charlotte double has been a real workout for Kurt Busch

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While his main focus for now is getting his Sprint Cup season back on the right track at Kansas Speedway, Kurt Busch’s next order of business isn’t far off either.

After running the 5-Hour Energy 400 tomorrow night in Kansas, Busch will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday for the start of official practice for the 98th Indianapolis 500.

Busch passed his Rookie Orientation Program for Andretti Autosport late last month, but has been preparing himself physically for the Indy 500/Coca-Cola 600 “double” for longer than that.

He is seeking to become the fourth driver in history to do both races on the same day and the second to complete all 1,100 miles of the challenge.

Still, despite his diligent preparation, Busch has been having his aches and pains.

“On the physical side of it, my hands have been very sore after each of the practice sessions just from the death grip on the wheel,” Busch said today at Kansas. “I need to relax more and just let the car come to me instead of me forcing the car.

“So, it’s just getting comfortable with the driver controls and knowing where everything is around me.”

He believes that upper-body strength will be critical for him, and it would seem that he’s making gains in that department as he reported a gain of several pounds in muscle mass – “a noticeable slight difference,” in his words.

As for his workout routine leading up to the double, Busch says he has been flipping between weight training and running, the latter including everyday jogs to and from the gym.

He believes that the hard work will not only pay off for him on Memorial Day weekend, but for years to come on the Sprint Cup side.

“It’s just been a lot of fun to get into more depth in all areas,” he said of his training. “And I feel like that’s going to help me, being 35 years old here in the Cup garage, with another strong ten years.

“Ramping up this format is going to carry and prolong my activity level here.”

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”