Kurt Busch has competed in 17 Coca-Cola 600s at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. He finished an impressive sixth in the 2014 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. All that’s left is the Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco and he will have the Memorial Day weekend trifecta.
The latter iconic race might be rather difficult, but Busch may take in the Monaco circuit in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup when he retires. If it sounds strange, did anyone see Busch’s performance in the 2014 Indianapolis 500? Anything is possible.
While Busch will be watching Monaco and Indianapolis, his focus Sunday will be the longest race of 2018 season – a 600-mile, 400-lap affair that has been contested since 1960.
Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has had some success at Charlotte as he started second and led 252 of 400 laps there en route to his 22nd NASCAR Cup Series victory on May 30, 2010.
He held off a hard-charging Jamie McMurray to score his only points-paying victory at the 1.5-mile oval. He won the non-points-paying NASCAR All-Star Race the week before, becoming just the seventh driver to win both events in the same year.
Along with the victory, Busch has seven points-paying top-five finishes and 12 top-10s at Charlotte.
Busch finished 18th in last weekend’s Monster Energy All-Star Race, but a Coca-Cola 600 win after finishing 18th in the All-Star Race has happened before. Casey Mears finished 18th in the 2007 All-Star Race, then came back one week later to score a win in the Coca-Cola 600.
A triumph Sunday would put Busch in elite company with drivers Richard Petty, Fred Lorenzen, Neil Bonnett, Jim Paschal, Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick as a two-time Coca-Cola 600 winner. And it would give Ford its first Coca-Cola 600 win since 2002.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Talk about the Coca-Cola 600.
“It’s a big, marquee event. There’s The Masters, the Grand Slams in tennis – there are those big marquee events and this is one of them for us here in NASCAR. Memorial Day weekend is a time to reflect on our military and to give thanks and honor those who have served. It’s also a huge weekend of motorsports and the platform of motorsports shines because of Monaco, Indy and Charlotte. And when you have a chance to be the last guy standing at the end of that weekend with a trophy in your hands, it’s big. It’s a huge event to win.”
What do you remember about competing in the 2014 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race?
“The action, the atmosphere and the people of Indiana love their racetrack. The Kentucky Derby is a few weeks before and that’s a chance for the horse racing people to be recognized. And that’s what I saw at Indianapolis. The people of Indiana have their track on a global world stage for the day. And everyone is proud of their track. The electricity, the atmosphere, the pageantry and then after all that, to take the green flag and go into turn one three wide, I’d never done that before in my life. And it’s like you snap into race mode. We’ve got 500 miles to do. And it was an incredible day that I will never forget.”
You’ve done Charlotte and Indy. Is Monaco next?
“There is that chance, but the clock is ticking on me (laughs). I look at Formula One as something I’ll never be able to do, but there are some support series – the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup is one. It’d be great to get on track at Monaco but, if I can’t, it’d be great to get on a boat in Monaco or on top of an apartment building in Monaco to experience the race.”
Talk about the 2010 Coca-Cola 600, when you had such a dominant car.
“Well, to start, we just missed out on the pole. That’s one thing that sticks in my mind. You know how racers are – we want to win them all. That race, we were so good in the daytime that I was afraid of what was going to happen when the sun went down and the track started to change and how the race would play out. I mean, you never really have a good car at the beginning and have it stay underneath you for the nighttime. It’s just the way you’ve always seen that race play out. But that car was that good. It was what we saw with it in the All-Star Race the week before. It was fast during both of those weekends. So it’s amazing how you can stumble across little things that make all of the difference in the world. Again, I was leading the beginning of the race just pacing myself. The car was so good in the daytime and I literally thought we would end up a lap down at night because cars never stay the same as the race goes on. But it worked out and we got the win in the 600.”