Kurt Busch rules out Indianapolis 500 run for 2016

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The 2014 Indianapolis 500 rookie-of-the-year, Kurt Busch, has announced Wednesday that he will not be competing in the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Busch wrote this statement on his website:

“After seriously contemplating making another run at “The Double”, and in response to the many questions I receive on the subject as the Month of May approaches, I wanted to state that I will not be participating in this year’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500,” Busch wrote.

“I must say this was not an easy decision and it does not in any way reflect upon my desire to compete again in one of the world’s greatest races; it is based solely on a need to maintain the focus and momentum we have built early in this NASCAR season with our #41 Stewart-Haas Racing, Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevy team – hopefully all the way to Homestead and the championship weekend.

“My experience with Andretti Autosport and its drivers was so very positive and the way in which the IndyCar fans and media welcomed me, it is undoubtedly one of the highlights of my career both personally and professionally. Fortunately, Michael and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have left the door open for a future run, and perhaps one day I will take them up on that, it just won’t be this year.”

In truth, Busch’s options were limited this year anyway, based on the remaining to-be-filled seats.  Theoretically though, Busch was the best option if Haas Automation wanted to have a presence in all three Memorial Day races.

Although Andretti Autosport plans to run a fifth car, Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star reported last month that Busch wouldn’t be in an Andretti car this year.

That being said, Michael Andretti said Busch can “drive for him anytime” at Indianapolis, to which Busch responded, “privilege!”

There was also some talk of Busch staying in Las Vegas to have meetings with Sam Schmidt of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports – FOX Sports noted at the Las Vegas NASCAR weekend that Busch bumped into Schmidt. SPM plans to run a third car.

KV Racing Technology also is likely to run a third car but has not announced it.

Busch finished sixth in 2014 in the first leg of a planned 1,100-mile day at both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600, but engine woes sidelined him at Charlotte.

Incidentally, Kyle Busch raised the idea he might be interested in racing the Indianapolis 500 now that he has won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. But given the available number of seats and whether he’d get permission from Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing to do it, it seems a long shot at the moment.