Even if he finished shy of his goal of 1,100 miles, Kurt Busch still wound up a winner Sunday.
Busch was attempting to be the first driver to race in the so-called “Double,” the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, since Robby Gordon last did so in 2004.
Let’s clarify that last sentence. Busch didn’t just attempt, he actually did it. He raced in both events. He just came up a bit short, not by his own choosing, but due to a blown motor 126 laps from the finish of the 600, relegating him to an eventual 40th-place finish in the evening encore to his sixth-place finish in the 500.
Granted, Busch did not complete what he set out to do in totality—he wanted to be the first driver (and only the second driver overall) since Tony Stewart completed both races in 2001.
But anyone who criticizes Busch either isn’t a true race fan or doesn’t know what the heck he/she is talking about.
If what Busch attempted Sunday was so easy—and his premature finish was so easy to criticize—why haven’t more drivers attempted the Double?
Only four drivers have tried to do the Double since it was first tried in 1994 by John Andretti. The others are Stewart, Gordon and now Busch.
The truth of the matter is Busch did a very extraordinary thing. He didn’t do it for ego. He didn’t do it for the money. He didn’t do it for the adulation.
Rather, he did it for the challenge—and the Double is indeed the ultimate challenge when it comes to being a race car driver.
Why has Stewart not run the Double since 2001, when he finished third at Indy and sixth at Charlotte?
Why did Andretti only try the Double once?
Why did Gordon, who attempted the Double five times, stop after his last try in 2004?
The reason is simple: It’s the hardest thing for a driver to attempt, let alone do.
Yet Busch not only attempted, he did it. Had his motor not gone south, he likely would have finished the 600. And at the rate he was going until his engine started acting up before eventually exploding, Busch could very likely have wound up with a top-10 finish.
In total, Busch completed 906 miles between Indianapolis and Charlotte, but wound up 194 miles short of his goal. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to feel embarrassed about and especially no need to feel like he didn’t achieve or accomplish what he set out to do.
While he may not have made it to the finish line at Charlotte, Busch achieved a victory nonetheless. For as much as he’s been criticized over the years for his behavior, temper and outbursts, Busch drew adulation and respect from fellow IndyCar and NASCAR drivers, the media and fans worldwide for the very special challenge he undertook.
No, he didn’t win at either place. No, he didn’t finish in totality what he started.
But what makes Busch a winner nonetheless for what he did Sunday is one very important thing that is at the core of why he decided to fulfill a lifelong dream:
Which is much more than any other driver other than Stewart, Andretti and Gordon is yet able to claim.
“All-in-all, I’m very satisfied,” Busch told Fox Sports after his engine grenaded. “I gave it my all.”
No one could ask for anything more.
Follow me on Twitter @JerryBonkowski