UPDATE (6:44 p.m. ET): Andretti Autosport has confirmed that Kurt Busch will drive Marco Andretti’s backup car in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 after his heavy crash in practice this afternoon.
Busch’s No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda can be fixed after its run-in with the Turn 2 wall, but the repairs will not be completed in time for Race Day.
However, Busch will be able to retain his starting position of 12th under Indy 500 rule Number 188.8.131.52 (as conveniently tweeted out by INDYCAR director of communications Mike Kitchel):
Shortly after 1:30 p.m. ET today, the former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion lost the back end of the No. 26 car in Turn 2, appeared to try and correct it, and then went hard into the outside wall.
Busch’s car caught on fire as he spun to the inside after impact, but the fire would go out and Busch was able to climb from the car when it came to rest on the backstretch.
Shortly after the crash, his girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, tweeted that Busch was fine. INDYCAR later confirmed that he had been checked and released from the infield care center.
At that point, Busch had been 13th-fastest in today’s practice with a lap at 225.623 miles per hour. He had run at 223.433 mph on his previous lap prior to the crash.
“I was just out there in race trim finding different tows and drafting with guys – just started to settle in and get comfortable,” Busch said over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway public address system.
“And it felt like, maybe I let my guard down and didn’t keep track of the adjustments in the car. [I was] just trying to find that rhythm and pace myself as I would on Sunday, and I just got behind on the adjustments in the car.”
Busch added that he was glad that such an incident took place now early in the week.
“The car’s probably gonna have – need – an extensive rebuild,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll get back out today. We do have Carb Day to shake things down, get back on our horse, and give this thing a try again.”
Busch qualified 12th yesterday for the ‘500’, which is the first part of his challenge to run both that race and the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday.