Don’t miss ‘Kurt Busch: 36’, ‘The Outlaw’s’ bid to complete Indy 500, Coke 600 Sunday on NBC, Monday on NBCSN

Leave a comment

Tie a piece of twine around your finger, set your alarm or have your best friend call and remind you – because you won’t want to miss NBC’s special documentary on Kurt Busch’s bid last month to become the first driver to attempt “The Double” since 2004.

Busch became the first driver since Robby Gordon – and only the fourth driver in history (the others were Gordon, John Andretti and Tony Stewart) – to attempt racing 1,100 miles in the same day in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600.

The Las Vegas native had an outstanding rookie run at Indy, finishing sixth, made it to Charlotte Motor Speedway on time, but unfortunately fell victim to a blown motor that prevented him from completing the full 1,100 miles.

The NBC Sports’ mini-documentary “Kurt Busch: 36” chronicles what Busch went through before, during and after both the 500 and 600.

The 30-minute version airs Sunday on NBC at 4:30 pm ET, while an extended hour-long “director’s cut” will air Monday on NBC Sports Network at 11:30 pm ET.

“(Both specials) will feature in-depth interviews, on-track footage, team communications and a seat right next to Busch throughout his races against drivers from two elite series, pulsating travel conditions and the limits of his own endurance,” according to a NBC Sports media release.

To get a sneak preview of what will be included in the special, check out the three following video excerpts:

The first clip shows Busch making his triumphant landing in the Charlotte Motor Speedway infield after jetting from Indianapolis to nearby Concord (N.C.) Regional Airport.

The next clip shows Busch backstage at the Coca-Cola 600, getting ready for the second half of “The Double” and talking with Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Danica Patrick, who gives Kurt a big congratulatory hug.

And last but not least, in the third preview clip, Busch talks with team co-owner and fellow Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart as both drivers prepare backstage for that evening’s Coke 600.

Remember, “Kurt Busch: 36” airs in its half-hour form Sunday afternoon at 4:30 pm ET on NBC Sports. And the hour-long extended “director’s cut’ airs Monday night at 11:30 pm ET on NBCSN.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

Leave a comment

Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.