Busch comes up 193 miles short
CONCORD, N.C. – Kurt Busch’s attempt at completing “The Double” ended Sunday night after his car blew an engine late in the Coca-Cola 600.
Busch finished sixth in his first Indianapolis 500 and was attempting to become the second driver to complete 1,100 miles in both races on the same day.
Busch ended up completing about 907 miles in his quest to join Tony Stewart as the only other driver to complete The Double.
Busch qualified 28th for the Coca-Cola 600 but had to start the 400-lap race at the rear of the field because he didn’t make it to the track in time for the driver’s meeting. He arrived at the track via helicopter about an hour before the start of the Sprint Cup race.
His moonlighting gig was a success. His day job was a bust under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway because of engine woes.
“It acted like it swallowed three cylinders all at once,” he said. “It’s kind of a shame. It symbolizes how tough it has been for (my NASCAR) team. I thought it was great racing in traffic. The feel of the stock car right after driving the IndyCar is a feeling I’ll never forget.”
Busch successfully completed the Indianapolis 500 earlier Sunday, then darted to the second race. The frenetic schedule didn’t faze him. Before his engine woes, he even hinted it might not be his only shot at the back-to-back races.
“I do like it enough to do it again,” he said after landing in North Carolina. “So we’ll see how things go tonight. … I need to ignore the 500 miles I just did.”
“The Double” has been attempted by just three drivers, the last being Robby Gordon in 2004. Only Stewart in 2001 successfully completed the two races, finishing sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Gordon toughs it out
On the 20th anniversary of his inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600, Jeff Gordon knew what it would take to see the checkered flag Sunday night.
To endure NASCAR’s longest race on Memorial Day weekend, Gordon had to sit out the final Sprint Cup Series practice on Saturday afternoon after enduring back spasms in the final round of knockout qualifying Thursday night and during the first practice run Saturday morning.
The decision to skip the final practice though would pay off in more ways than one. Gordon, the three-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600 would keep his streak of consecutive Cup starts alive and, most of all, maintain his championship lead after 12 starts.
Gordon had his work cut out for him though after starting 27th. In a race where physical form would be a factor, Gordon took his discomfort in stride and methodically worked his way through the field during the grueling 600-mile race.
Gordon surfaced to the lead on Lap 213 during green flag pit stops and again on Lap 374 for two laps.
He finished seventh.
“It (the back) was better than Saturday morning and that was what I was thankful for,” said Gordon. “I think (it was) the procedures and different forms of therapy that I did.”