Kurt Busch will have his first taste of a Grand Prix weekend watching his NASCAR team owner’s, Gene Haas, Haas F1 Team Formula 1 operation next week at the European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan.
It’s a rare off weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and the 2004 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 rookie-of-the-year will spend it – naturally – at a race track.
Busch confirmed this would happen during his media availability at Michigan International Speedway on Friday morning.
“Next week, we have an off-week from our NASCAR circuit and I’m headed over to the Middle East to watch our Formula 1 team at Baku, (Azerbaijan),” Busch told assembled reporters at his morning availability.
“I can’t wait to hang out with (Romain) Grosjean and (Esteban) Gutierrez and have the opportunity to sit next to a Formula 1 driver and see his tools that he uses; whether it’s simulation, whether it’s mapping. I’m hoping that I can discover things that I’ll be able to ask Gene. ‘Hey Gene, why don’t we have that? Let’s bring that back over to the North Carolina side and use it for the Sprint Cup teams.’
For Busch, who got on the win scoreboard earlier this week at Pocono Raceway, it’ll be a chance to see how the F1 world works at a track where no one has an advantage. The Baku race is new to the F1 schedule and will put everyone on level footing.
“It’s just an exciting time for Gene, all the way around, with the success that he had early on in F1,” Busch said.
“But now to settle-in as the season is going on and for us to deliver a win, it’s really a neat time with Gene Haas. He’s having a lot of fun in motorsports and he’s pushing harder and harder and harder.
“And I hope that there is something that I can bring back and cross-pollenate with our Sprint Cup team from the F1.”
The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.
IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.
This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.
INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists
IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.
“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.
“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.