INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kurt Busch wrecked during Monday’s practice at Indianapolis, putting him in a backup car for the open-wheel portion of his historic double this weekend.
Busch spun coming out of the second turn on the 2.5-mile oval and slammed hard into the outside wall. It was the biggest crash of the month.
Andretti Autosport said Monday night the car would not be repaired by the Indy 500 and Busch will drive teammate Marco Andretti’s backup car. Busch will still start 12th.
Debris flew into the air, there was a small fire and one of the tires rolled dangerously down the track as the car rolled to a stop on the infield grass.
But the hardest part for Busch was contemplating all the work that must be done now as he becomes the fourth driver to attempt completing the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Both races will be held Sunday.
“This created a lot of work for the Andretti guys. I feel bad for that,” he said. “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.”
Busch was checked by IndyCar medical director Dr. Michael Olinger at the infield medical center and immediately cleared to drive.
Busch said he was fine and ready to return to racing Friday when the final 1-hour practice sessions will be held. Busch said it wasn’t a big deal he had to switch cars because he completed his Indy rookie orientation program earlier this month in a different Andretti Autosport car.
“The ability of the Andretti Autosport team to field the car, it doesn’t matter how it starts, or where it comes from, they’ve been very accurate with everything,” Busch said by phone. “I’ll get over it quick. I’ve wrecked cars before.”
In the garage area, crew members covered the damaged right side of the car with blankets before moving in into the garage and closing the door. When some fans attempted to take parts from the car, Andretti Autosport team members chased them down and retrieved the parts.
The team then took the car back to its Indy shop to determine whether the car could be repaired.
“We’ve already worked our crews to death, trying to work with this schedule,” said Kyle Moyer, Andretti’s director of racing operations. “But we’ll get it done.”
Initially, officials said Busch would start from the back of the field if he used another car in the race. Series officials later clarified that would not be the case, something that should help Busch.
He qualified 12th, the outside of Row 4 on the 33-car starting grid. No driver has won Indy after starting 33rd.
“I was starting to feel comfortable,” Busch said. “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. You have to keep track of where you are at all times and the adjustments in the car.”
Other IndyCar drivers thought Busch may have been done in by his NASCAR roots.
“It looked like he just got loose in two and it looked to me like he overcorrected, like you would in NASCAR,” Josef Newgarden said. “The thing looked like it almost snapped straight, but then it went in on its side.”
Here are five other things from practice:
NEW LEADER: Though the speed chart from Monday’s practice means little because teams were working on race setup in traffic, Newgarden, who drives for Sarah Fisher’s team, was the fastest of the day. His best lap was 227.105 mph. Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2000 Indy winner who drives for Roger Penske, was second at 226.532. Scott Dixon, also a previous Indy winner, was third at 226.433 for Target Chip Ganassi, and Russia’s Mikhail Aleshin was the fastest rookie at 226.371. Aleshin was fourth.
ACTING PRESIDENTIAL: NCAA President Mark Emmert got a chance to show a different side at Indianapolis. He opened practice waving the green flag and also got a chance to ride around the track with three-time Indy winner Dario Franchitti, who retired last fall. “That was the best ever,” Emmert said. “He was always my favorite driver. It was a complete surprise that he was driving it. It was wonderful to chat with him, and of course, ride around the track with him.”
MARRIAGE VOWS: Long-time Indianapolis 500 fans Cory and Linlee Patterson of Lafayette, Indiana, were married Sunday in one of the Tower Terrace suites. They met speedway president Doug Boles and pole-winner Ed Carpenter. They have attended the past five 500s together.
OLYMPIC QUEST: Dallas Robinson and Abe Morlu, who worked with the U.S. bobsled and luge team at the Sochi Olympics, were at the track working with Buddy Lazier’s team Monday. They met Lazier’s engineer, David Cripps, at the Olympics and were reunited at the track. Robinson and Morlu worked with the team and took a ride in the 2-seater driven by Mario Andretti.
THE SWITCHBACK?: NASCAR driver Parker Kligerman started his career in open-wheel cars. Now the 23-year-old is considering a move back. He would replace Busch in the Coca-Cola 600 if Busch doesn’t make it back in time. “I have a love for open-wheel cars and it’s something that me and my manager Bob Perona have talked about,” Kligerman said. “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.”
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