Friday, May 23, 2014

Kurt Busch Double Duty: Television Time, Back on Track and Riding with a Champion

Kurt Busch at Charlotte on Thursday
credit: Getty Images/Jerry Markland
Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kurt Busch, attempting “the double” by running the Indianapolis 500 and Coca Cola 600 in the same day, will be the subject of an all-access television special being produced by NBC Sports entitled KURT BUSCH: 36. The special will look into the intense preparation, 200-plus-mph competition and extreme logistics surrounding “the double.”

The 30-minute special, with in-depth interviews, on-track footage, team communications and more will debut on Sunday, June 8 at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC.  A 60-minute "director’s cut" of KURT BUSCH: 36 will air the following day, Monday, June 9 at 11 p.m. ET on NBCSN. NBC Sports’ NASCAR production team, led by Executive Producer Sam Flood, teamed with NASCAR Productions for the special.  The program furthers NBCSN’s ":36" documentaries, which chronicle the 36 hours that cover the lead-up, completion and aftermath of a major sporting event.  KURT BUSCH: 36 takes the series to another level as it encapsulates two races.     

"This attempt at ‘The Double’ ranks among the most unique undertakings in all of sports, because it involves so many factors and storylines, each of which play out over the course of two iconic races," said Flood.  "We’re looking forward to chronicling the drama and excitement that will build throughout Kurt’s attempt at history." 

"Kurt Busch’s attempt at ‘The Double’ is a challenging endeavor that speaks to the highly competitive spirit of NASCAR drivers," said Tally Hair, Managing Director, NASCAR Productions. "The special will provide fans with an exclusive, up-close-and-personal look into what will be a grueling but amazing story for Kurt Busch and the racing world."

credit: IndyCar Media/Jim Haines
Busch, who qualified 28th for Sunday’s Coca Cola 600 on Thursday night, practiced his new No. 26 Suretone Honda for Andretti Autosport on Friday during Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Busch hit the Turn 2 wall on Monday during practice, necessitating the use of a back-up car for the 500.

“Just got to thank my crew,” said Busch during a press conference on Friday. “Honestly, this is a thank-the-crew moment from Andretti Motorsports. Those guys worked tirelessly on Marco Andretti's car that he's going to run next weekend at Detroit to put it in oval condition, to go out there, make laps, stage ourselves to progress through the day today.”

“That one-hour session, that old-school Happy Hour thrash that we would call in the NASCAR world. Felt good to get out there and get comfortable. I'd give it a B overall. Nice feeling to get settled back in and thanks to the Andretti Autosports guys.”

Busch, the 2004 Cup Series champ, will have a passenger of sorts with him at Indianapolis on Sunday. Father Dale Grubba, long-time friend of a number of Midwest drivers, will be at the track with Busch, and Busch has a special memento in his IndyCar livery from another one of NASCAR’s champions.

credit: IndyCar Media/Jim Haines
“I met Father Grubba through Tom Roberts, my PR guy in my days at Penske,” said Busch. “Father Grubba has been with a lot of the ASA guys in the Midwest guys, late model guys, racing, taking photography, saying mass for those individuals. He was close to the late Alan Kulwicki, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin.”

“Just to have him on my side, it's just great to have a pastor running shotgun with me. I'll try to pull anything I can to try to make it through,” Busch continued. I have Alan's (Kulwicki’s) medallion coin, and (Grubba) will be saying mass for me on Sunday morning with my family.”

Busch has been receiving additional support – and some ribbing – from his Sprint Cup Series co-owner Tony Stewart, the only driver to successfully complete all 1,100 miles of "the double." “With Stewart, he's been wanting me to stay on top of giving him information,” said Busch. “He's been giving information back. He asked me if I needed a bulldozer to move the Turn 2 wall.”

“It's great to have his experience as a driver and then to have him as an owner on my NASCAR side. I can see his eyes light up every time I go over there and talk to him about all of this.”

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