Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Kurt Busch Double Duty: A Wreck at Indy and Another NASCAR Visitor

credit: IndyCar Media/Jim Haines
Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kurt Busch, attempting “the double” by running the Indianapolis 500 and Coca Cola 600 in the same day, was not injured and has been cleared to race after hitting the Turn 2 wall at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday during practice for the 500-mile race.

“I was starting to feel comfortable. That’s when I made the mistake of just letting my guard down or settling into that long run type mentality whereas with an Indy car you have to be on edge,” said Busch of the single-car accident, which happened about 90 minutes into practice. “You have to keep track of where you are at all times and the adjustments in the car. Maybe I just didn’t keep up with keeping the car underneath me. Trying to get into that rhythm and feel other things around you and I got behind on my adjustments in the car.”

Kurt Busch "practices" standing with the Indy 500
winner's trophy, the Borg-Warner Trophy
credit: IndyCar Media/Jim Haines
Should the need arise, Busch will be able to start his backup car from P12 on Sunday due to the following rule in the Verizon IndyCar Series Rulebook:

“8.4.3.9. If a Qualified Car is involved in a crash, the Entrant may replace the Qualified Car with another Car and start the Race in the Qualified Car’s position. If a Qualified Car is unable to start the Race for any other reason, INDYCAR shall determine if the Entrant is permitted to replace the Qualified Car with another Car and start the Race in the Qualified Car’s position or if the Entrant is required to start the Race from the rear of the starting field.”

“It’s nice to have it at an opportune time,” said Busch. “We still have Carb Day (on Friday) to shake things down and get back in the groove. This created a lot of work for the Andretti guys. I feel bad for that. As a rookie, there’s things you learn and put it up on the edge and get away with and then there’s times when it will bite you. It’s just tough. I thought I was finding a rhythm and settling into that long run type pace and learning the tows and the draft and I didn’t keep track of the adjustments of the car.”

Busch was not the only NASCAR driver at IMS following the Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night. Sprint Cup rookie Parker Kligerman, who is Busch’s backup driver for SHR if he is unable to return to Charlotte in time for Sunday’s race, was also at IMS, checking out potential opportunities in the IndyCar Series. Kligerman was a member of Swan Racing before it discontinued operations in April, leaving his season in limbo. The 23-year-old driver, who raced in the Nationwide Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2013, got his start in open-wheel racing.

Parker Kligerman at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March
credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/Todd Warshaw
“I actually started racing in open-wheel cars,” explained Kligerman. “I did Formula Renault my first ever season and Skip Barber. I wanted to go over to Europe, but just couldn’t afford it. Stock car (racing) was a place you could go as a young kid and get an opportunity. I was able to take that opportunity and get to the top of that sport. I have a love for open-wheel cars and it’s something that me and my manager Bob Perona have talked about. I’ve been given a bit of a vacation right now, so I’m taking the opportunity as a race fan and a racer to see what’s out there and what the possibilities are.”

“I’ve been to the (Indy) 500 as a fan in 2007, and in 2008, I lived out here for the summer when I was racing midgets,” continued Kligerman. “I lived a block away from the Speedway, so I’ve been here before and have always been interested in the 500 as a fan. But to be here and be a little more behind the scenes is great. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have been nice enough to show me around a little bit. I’ve been hanging out with Simon Pagenaud and it’s been fun. It’s cool to see the speed. Yesterday I went up to the spotter’s stand in Turn 1 and saw the guys get a little loose and see how the cars react, and that was awesome. I’m enjoying it.”

Kligerman’s decision to check out IndyCar Series possibilities was spurred on by his friend AJ Allmendinger’s 2013 season, when he competed in numerous series and special events, including the Indy 500.

“AJ and I are good friends and we’ve talked about it a lot,” said Kligerman. “His year last year, where he took a step back from full-time stockcars is the example of how to do it. Go out and drive as many different cars as you can and do as well as you can and enjoy racing. I think he really enjoyed that. I was talking to Roger (Penske) yesterday and we were talking about that same situation. He saw me and said, ‘What are you doing here?’ and I said, ‘Just looking around.’ And he said, ‘Well AJ did it last year.’ We laughed about it. It’s almost harkens back to the days when guys drove everything. I think guys are looking to do more of that because we get bored doing the same thing week in and week out.”

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