One race weekend remains before NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race competitor Kurt Busch attempts “The Double” – racing in both the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on May 25. “The Double” is an all-star-type feat, successfully accomplished by only a four drivers in the history of auto racing.
However, before the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) embarks on one of the most grueling feats in auto racing Memorial Day weekend, he has another $1 million payday on the docket that he would love to add to an already impressive all-star resume.
Drivers can qualify for the Sprint All-Star Race field by winning a Sprint Cup race in the current or previous season, by being an All-Star Race winner or Sprint Cup champion in the past 10 years, or a top-two finisher from Friday night’s Sprint Showdown – the last-chance race to make it into Saturday night’s main event – or by winning this weekend’s fan vote.
Busch has qualified for the All-Star Race three different ways. He won the 2004 Sprint Cup championship, the 2010 Sprint All-Star Race and the Sprint Cup race in March at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
The Las Vegas native would love to add a second win in the All-Star Race to his already impressive resume. Only six drivers have won the annual event more than once. Busch would join some of the biggest names in the sport – Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Terry Labonte and Mark Martin – as drivers with multiple All-Star wins.
But, in order for Busch to join that elite group, he will have to do it with limited practice time. Busch is planning to sit out Sprint All-Star practice Friday in order to focus on qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. Parker Kligerman, a former teammate of Busch at Team Penske and, more recently, of Swan Racing, will stand in for Busch in the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet.
SHR, the title-winning Sprint Cup team co-owned by three-time series champion Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation – the largest CNC machine tool builder in the western world – selected Kligerman in the event that Busch, who is commuting between Indianapolis and Charlotte this weekend and next, is unable to practice, qualify or start his No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet at Charlotte due to a schedule conflict or logistical issue.
While Busch is scheduled to miss practice time Friday, he fully expects to be back at Charlotte Motor Speedway in time for Saturday’s drivers meeting, qualifying and the start of the Sprint All-Star Race. And just like any other time when Busch arrives at any racetrack, his eyes will be on the ultimate prize – times two.