Kurt Busch's Memorial Day Weekend Double Bid Historic Regardless of End Result

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2014

Kurt Busch smiles following practice for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup series Coca-Cola 600 auto race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Saturday, May 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Regardless of the end results in Sunday's Indy 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kurt Busch's 1,100-mile trek to complete the Memorial Day weekend double is a historic moment for motorsports.

R Brent Smith/Associated Press

At a time when the globe turns its attention to the world of motorsports for a complete weekend, it is important for all involved to create return viewers and new fans through interesting narratives and competitive action on the track.

Busch stands at the top of Memorial Day weekend alone in both regards.

Over the course of more than eight hours, Busch will complete 600 laps of action and travel 1,100 miles on race tracks and another 530 through the air between races, per The Associated Press, via ABC News.

The overall journey certainly flies directly in the face of those who suggest drivers are not athletes in the traditional sense. As history shows, only a few names have attempted the extreme test of endurance and willpower:

Memorial Day Double Attempts
Year Driver Indy 500 Finish Coke 600 Finish Miles Completed
1994 John Andretti 10th 36th 820
1999 Tony Stewart 9th 4th 1,090
2001 Tony Stewart 6th 3rd All 1,100
2002 Robby Gordon 8th 16th 1,098
2003 Robby Gordon 22nd 17th 834

Busch's journey has grabbed the attention of the globe and ensured that the other big names of the sport champion his cause as a co-sign. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was one such name to throw his support behind his attempt, via Fox Sports NASCAR:

For Busch, the end goal is to not only challenge himself, but to help all drivers in the court of public perception, as he told David Caraviello of NASCAR's official website:

To me, I've always just tried to challenge myself in motorsports, and to be a student of all kind of cars -- dirt tracks, road courses, superspeedways, short track, open wheel, and of course, our stock cars. That's my love, my passion, and it's in my blood. And it's a chance to challenge myself, to do something physically and mentally as a driver, and show how tough NASCAR drivers are.

As Lars Anderson of Sports on Earth details, the driver is going to extreme ends to make sure he partakes in both events:

To prepare for the physical demands of starting the 500 at 12:12 p.m. ET and the 600 at 6:15 p.m. ET, Busch will load up on carbs -- oatmeal, salmon and potatoes. He'll travel the 400 miles between tracks on a private jet with a doctor and nurse, who will give him fluids and vitamins on the 90-minute flight.

Technically an IndyCar rookie, Busch experienced a bit of a career renaissance last year and remains one of the only true challengers to Jimmie Johnson's NASCAR dominance. He can be a polarizing character at times, but he is one perfectly suited to champion the sport's cause.

Sunday is a historic moment for the sport as a whole and a career highlight on a personal level for Busch. His success or failure will be overshadowed by the complexities of a sport tackled by a complex man in a time when it needs him most.

On Sunday, Busch is motorsports.


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