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Kurt Busch learning way in IndyCar after crash

Kurt Busch drives out of the pit area during practice for the Indianapolis 500 earlier this week.

Associated Press

Kurt Busch drives out of the pit area during practice for the Indianapolis 500 earlier this week.

With one sudden spin and slam into the wall, Kurt Busch's IndyCar burst into flames.

His shot at The Double, almost up in smoke.

Busch walked away unscathed, his car totaled for Sunday's Indianapolis 500. He'll have an Andretti Autosport backup ready to go for race day, when he tries to make history as only the second driver to complete 1,100 total miles by racing in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

Busch spun Sunday coming out of the second turn on the 2½-mile oval and smacked into the outside wall. It was the biggest crash of the month. He was lucky his accident didn't cost him more than a car. And his Tony Stewart-owned NASCAR team surely said a big thanks that one of their key cogs won't miss any time in his day job.

"I'll get over it quick. I've wrecked cars before," Busch said. "I got sideways, I tried to correct it. I had it for a moment, but then I tried to overcorrect it."

Busch, 35, is the fourth driver to attempt to complete the back-to-back race feat known as "The Double." He's making his debut in IndyCar, and the 2004 Sprint Cup champion acknowledged he made a rookie mistake on the track.

"We made a couple of changes, it was back to my most confident feel in the car," he said.

At 1,500 pounds, IndyCars are lighter and have less horsepower than the 3,500-pound cars in NASCAR that Busch usually drives. That leaves IndyCars more susceptible to flips and even fatalities.

Busch's "NASCAR instincts" got him in trouble during the wreck, 2000 Indy 500 winner and former NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya said. Montoya mimicked the motion of turning a wheel all the way as a source of the problem: "Too much wheel. … A NASCAR wheel goes and it stays there for a long time. It doesn't kick back. The IndyCar, an open wheel, kicks back."

Busch knows there's more to learn in his new ride, and he won't truly grasp the nuances of racing in corners or handling traffic until Sunday.

"I have to use my experience from the NASCAR world to feel the car, know what to do in traffic, predict restarts," he said. "It will be a full set of lessons learned in the first half of the race. If I'm there halfway, I'll start to apply it."

Stewart, the only driver to fully complete The Double (2001, sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte), has offered Busch tips on the differences between each car.

"With those cars, it's all about momentum and being able to carry corner speeds," Stewart said. "It's a little more crucial in those cars than it is in ours because we have horsepower to fall back on."

Hours after the wreck, Busch said he felt fine, up for the grind of his media obligations. He went out for dinner in New York with rapper Ice-T and his wife, Coco. He'll return to racing Friday when the final one-hour Indy 500 practice sessions will be held. "I would consider him a possible top-three finisher, if he gets through all the problems during the race," 1998 Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever said. "He's been incredible. I'm very impressed."

Hall inductees: Wendell Scott became the first African-American driver to be elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. Scott, who died in 1990, was among the latest group of five — all drivers, another first — voted in. He joins 1988 Cup champion Bill Elliott, two-time series champ Joe Weatherly, 1960 champ Rex White and 26-time race winner Fred Lorenzen.

Super Sunday

Indianapolis 500, noon, 500 miles (200 laps), Indianapolis Motor Speedway TV/radio: Ch. 28; 1250-AM

Coca-Cola 600, 6 p.m., 600 miles (400 laps), Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C. TV/radio: Ch. 13; 102.5-FM

Kurt Busch learning way in IndyCar after crash 05/21/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 8:42pm]
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