Kyle Busch had a deal in place and was going to run in the 2017 Indianapolis 500 before team owner Joe Gibbs interceded and asked the former NASCAR Cup Series champion to reconsider.
Busch revealed the news Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s Cup Series race, saying he had the team and sponsorship put together to compete in the open-wheel race but what he didn’t have was Gibbs’ permission.
“I had it done — sold and everything ready to go — and I’ve got a boss that said, ‘No,’” Busch said. “I thought that I had a great opportunity to do it.”
Gibbs’ reluctance to sign off on Busch’s plan centered on Busch having no experience driving an open-wheel car. Busch said racing in the Indianapolis 500 would be a “unique opportunity” and is something he’s always wanted to do.
“The biggest thing that scares my boss is that I’ve never driven those cars,” Busch said. “A Cup car or an Xfinity car or a truck or something like that like, I know what to feel and how to feel and when something bad starts to happen, I can straighten it out or normally I can try to fix it.”
“That’s probably the biggest fear, is just not knowing what those cars do when you get into a bad situation.”
Drivers attempting Indianapolis without any seat-time in an Indy car is not uncommon. Kurt Busch, Kyle’s older brother, raced in the 2014 Indianapolis 500 and later that same day competed in the Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kurt Busch finished sixth and was named Rookie of the Year.
Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso skipped this year’s Monaco Grand Prix to race at Indianapolis. He qualified fifth and led 27 laps of the race before an engine failure ended his victory bid. He too was named Rookie of the Year.
“I’m kind of glad it didn’t come together because Alonso kind of stole the headlines,” Busch said. “In the future, there may be more [Formula One] guys coming over to run that race, so I may have to split the limelight if you will with somebody else that kind of wants to do that race.
“But I think it’d be fun.”