2014 Indy 500: Kurt Busch Looks To Pull Off Rare Feat, Reclaim His Image

The Indy 500 could make history in 2014 as Kurt Busch tries the cross-county double and makes a go at reshaping his image.

On Sunday, Busch will try to become the second driver to complete both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte, the two cornerstone races of Memorial Day weekend. The races take place six hours apart and nearly 600 miles away.

The accomplishment, known as “The Double,” has only been attempted by three drivers before — John Andretti, Tony Stewart, and Robby Gordon. Of those, Stewart was the only one able to finish all 1,100 miles of the race.

In order to even attempt it, Busch will have to compete in the 2014 Indy 500 at noon and then immediately hop on a private jet for the hour-long flight over to Charlotte. To make the day even more challenging, it will be the first time he’s competed in an Indy car.

For Kurt Busch, the 2014 Indy 500 race is an attempt to re-shape the image he’s assumed as the “Bad Boy” of racing. Known for his fighting on the track and his salty language on the radio, Busch has earned the reputation over the years and even embraced it.

“You still need a PC filter in this day and age,” Busch said. “Everyone is so sensitive. In the fabric of America, we’re all a bunch of wussies now.”

Many see Kurt Busch as one of the biggest villains in all of sports, and in fact Forbes magazine named him in 2013 as one of the most disliked athletes in America. But those in NASCAR circles say he’s actually a good guy underneath it all.

“He certainly has, as part of his reinvention, made himself more likable,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR’s chief marketing officer. “He’s philanthropic, he does a lot with the Armed Forces Foundation. That’s a side of Kurt that people didn’t see for a long time. Whether it was there or not or whether it’s new, it’s hard to say. But it’s certainly there now.”But to Kurt Busch, competing in the 2014 Indy 500 isn’t about getting people to like him but instead about testing his own abilities.

“It’s not like I’m putting my career or my credentials on the line to prove anything,” said Busch. “This is a moment to moment to check off something on my bucket list but also challenge myself to see where I can end up in this open wheel rank at one of the most difficult races in the world.”

The 2014 Indy 500 starts Sunday at noon, with coverage on ABC.