SPEEDWAY – Who ever thought that conquering air could even mean so much or present such difficulty?
But that’s what you have at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when a crowd of open wheel machines take to the oval and kick up some dirt as they got for two-and-a-half miles.
It’s a challenge for a veteran driver of the Indianapolis 500. For a rookie, it requires something that might seem a little foreign to a driver: slow and steady wins the race.
“I can draw a check mark through the day,” said first-year IndyCar competitor Kurt Busch. “It’s a successful rookie day in playing in dirty air.”
That doesn’t seem like that would be an attitude of a driver who in the NASCAR circuit is a tested veteran who has a series championship under his belt. But in making his attempt for “The Double”–running both the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca Cola 600 on May 25–Busch isn’t impatient as he learns the nuances of the open wheel machine over the next two weeks.
“The next day we have to advance that,” said Busch Sunday after working through dirty air for the first time during practice with his temporary Andretti Autosport teammates. “The next day we have to advance it again and then Thursday we’re looking to take downforce off the car to get into qualifying mode.
“We’ll see how it all pans out.”
There are a few examples early in this Month of May practice to show that this is not just rhetoric from the veteran driver. On that Sunday practice he was engaged in conversation with all of his Andretti Autosport teammates on different issues with the car during his run and has done the same in days since.
E.J. Viso, who is temporarily filling in for James Hinchcliffe as he recovers from a concussion suffered in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis Saturday, was more than happy to vouch for Busch’s attitude as he continues to get up to speed with the car.
“He constantly asks about very basic things in IndyCar,” said Viso of Busch. “It’s actually been very nice working with him. It’s refreshing to see how someone so experienced in another category approaches a different and new scenario.”
Busch, who continues to get himself ready for NASCAR’s Memorial Day Weekend race in Charlotte, says his humility is due to the amount of work he has to do to not only get in the race itself but also to compete.
“There’s a lot of information,” said Busch of learning IndyCar. “There’s a lot of speed too. 220 (miles per hour) things are moving quick but it’s a lot of fun.”
Along with a lot of patience, too.