For the first time in a decade, a driver will attempt "Double Duty."
Kurt Busch is the man crazy enough to take a stab at what is undoubtedly one of the most unique, compelling feats in all of sports. Sunday afternoon, he will make his IndyCar debut at the Indianapolis 500, only to immediately fly to Charlotte hopefully in time for the start of the Coca-Cola 600.
If all goes right—er, left—the 35-year-old NASCAR veteran will race 1,100 miles in a single day.
“I love to have this chance,” Busch said last week, via the New York Times' Jerry Garrett. “It’s just so exciting to talk about it. It’s just still hard to put it all into words.”
Only three drivers have accomplished the Memorial Day weekend feat: John Andretti, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart, with the latter serving as the only person in history to complete all 1,100 miles of both races.
The rarity of "America's auto racing version of the Ironman," as Eddie Cheever so perfectly put it, isn't surprising.
Everything must go perfect to get to Charlotte Motor Speedway on time. Mother Nature must be at her best behavior. There certainly can't be any serious crashes, as there was Monday when Busch hit a wall during practice and saw his car go up in flames. Heck, even entering the winner's circle at Indy could derail things.
How will Busch fare on Sunday?
Not just from a timing perspective, though—it's a grueling physical and mental battle.
Shortly after Stewart crossed the finish line in Charlotte in 1999, he collapsed from exhaustion on the infield. It was nothing serious, but a prime example of the kind of toll "Double Duty" can take on a driver's body.
"For me, I've had to go in all areas—fitness, workout, nutrition," Busch said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. "Even a martial arts instructor has been putting me through boot camp to know how to apply certain techniques, and to find that knowledge within."
Whether putting his body through that kind of punishment is smart or not, this potential feat is what is alluring about sports, as Motor Racing Network's Dustin Long argued:
The Indy 500, easily one of the biggest races in the world, needs no help in attracting viewers or drawing up storylines. But as Busch becomes the first IndyCar rookie ever to complete the truly fascinating "Double Duty," that only adds to the charm surrounding the historic weekend.