Kurt Busch has “experience of a lifetime” in IndyCar test at IMS

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From the beginning, former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch was very much impressed by what an IndyCar can do at over 200 miles per hour at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“That was wild,” Busch exclaimed according to Andretti Autosport after the first run of his test session this morning in Ryan Hunter-Reay’s No. 1 DHL/Sun Drop Chevrolet. The session was originally to close around lunch time in Indianapolis, but was extended into the early afternoon.

When on-track activity ended, the man known as “The Outlaw” told his crew: “Experience of a lifetime. Thank you, guys.”

Busch ran 83 laps, had a fast lap of 218.210 miles per hour, and passed all three phases of a simulated Rookie Orientation Program at the Speedway — which all first-time Indianapolis 500 racers must pass in order to compete in practice and qualifying. IMS says that Busch has now been licensed to drive an IndyCar.

“It’s a incredible feeling to be able to drive in Indianapolis in May in an IndyCar with the name Andretti on the car,” said Busch, who admitted to having a “kid in the candy store” sort of feeling during his opening laps.

“I couldn’t have asked for more from Ray [Gosselin], the lead engineer, and to have [team owner] Michael [Andretti] standing there — and then [James] Hinchcliffe came and put in his advice. To have a driver like himself just sit there and try to put my mind at ease is one thing, and then you have a legend like Michael telling me what to do. I couldn’t have asked for anything better — a treat that can’t be equaled, to say the least.”

Busch has indicated a possible interest in becoming the first driver since Robby Gordon in 2004 to sign up for “Double Duty” and attempt to run both the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same day. However, Busch says that he’d prefer to have more time to learn about driving an open-wheel car before he’d feel ready to attempt the feat next year.

“This day and age, everyone wants more,” he said after his test. “When you have extra energy into any race, it makes it more exciting it for everyone involved. When you have sponsors wanting to be involved. It’s difficult to be done to be in peak performance for the Coca-Cola 600.

“I wouldn’t be able to do [the double] this year because of stamina. Today, I was white knuckled and tense, and that was only after 10 laps. To crawl and then walk and then walk and run, I think the next step is to go to another oval and another race and see how the car runs in traffic.”

As for Michael Andretti, he was complimentary of Busch’s performance in today’s test.

“We wanted to do it a proper way, mostly for Kurt,” he said. “We wanted him to have a real experience and we wanted to make some changes that he could feel, and he could start to understand a little bit more about what to expect with the car in different conditions and different setups. I think we were able to achieve that, so I would say the day went as good as we could’ve expected.”

Tickets on sale for 2019 IndyCar race at Circuit of the Americas

Alison Narro, COTA
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Tickets are now on sale for the upcoming IndyCar Classic at the Circuit of the Americas March 22-24, 2019 and in grand Texas fashion, the series and track kicked off the sale with appearances by Simon Pagenaud and Colton Herta in San Antonio and Austin respectively.

The CoTA race will be the second race of the 2019 season.

Simon Pagenaud visited the Alamo as part of IndyCar’s announcement of ticket sales for next year’s IndyCar Classic at the Circuit of the Americas (Alison Narro – COTA)

The highly anticipated debut of IndyCar at CoTA adds another marquee event to the track’s schedule along with Formula 1, World Rallycross and the Pirelli World Challenge.

Pagenaud was joined by retired San Antonio Sours player Brent Barry and local businessman Red McCombs as they visited the Alamo and world famous McNay Art Museum.

This will be IndyCar’s first trip to the track, but Pagenaud came within one position of winning at Texas Motor Speedway in 2018. Driving for Team Penske, he started and second behind his teammate Josef Newgarden and finished a season-best second to Scott Dixon.

Pagenaud hopes to add to his current 11 victories after going winless in 2018.

Colton Herta, who will compete for Rookie of the Year honors in IndyCar in 2019, made his presence known in the Gen-X capital of Austin, Texas (Alison Narro – COTA)

After visting San Antonio, focus shifted to Austin where Herta was joined by Jay Frye, President of Competition and Operations at IndyCar and Bobby Epstein, Chairman of Circuit of the Americas.

Herta took to the streets of Austin and visited the Texas State Capitol building as part of his tour.

Herta, who will turn 19-years-old the week after IndyCar visits CoTA, will campaign for Rookie of the Year honors in 2019. He has one previous start in the series at Sonoma this September. He qualified 19th and completed all 85 laps before finishing 20th in the 25-car field.

In 33 starts in Indy Lights competition, Herta has six wins, 20 podium finishes and nine poles.