NASCAR’s Busch, Allmendinger split on Indy 500 return
The two most recent drivers from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to have crossed over to the Indianapolis 500 are at odds over whether they’ll race it again.
Kurt Busch hasn’t said no to a 2016 Indy 500 appearance, while AJ Allmendinger definitively has on Tuesday during NASCAR’s Daytona 500 Media Day.
Busch, the 2014 Indianapolis 500 rookie-of-the-year, finished sixth in the first leg of what was supposed to be an 1,100-mile double between Indianapolis and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte.
He said he’ll know more by March, once NASCAR heads West to Phoenix, Las Vegas and Auto Club Speedway, whether he’ll be making an encore appearance.
“We’re at Daytona and we’re all focused on Daytona,” Busch told reporters during Daytona 500 Media Day in Daytona.
“I think once we get through Atlanta and that ‘NASCAR Goes West’ tour, that will give a better indication on if I’m going to run Indy this year.”
Busch ran the Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport in 2014.
Andretti traditionally adds at least one car to its Indianapolis 500 roster and Busch was the fifth car for the team that year, along with Andretti’s then-full season quartet of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz and James Hinchcliffe.
It was a rare occasion where although Busch drives a Chevrolet in Sprint Cup for Stewart-Haas Racing, he drove a Honda for Andretti at the Indianapolis 500.
Allmendinger returned to open-wheel in 2013 with Team Penske after a seven-year hiatus, and led laps and finished seventh in the Indianapolis 500.
But he said Tuesday he is categorically against any return to open-wheel until the cars adopt some sort of closed cockpit protection, canopy or otherwise.
Asked whether he’d want to race to race the ‘500 again, Allmendinger told assembled reporters, “No. The moment Justin Wilson passed away is the moment I said, never again.
“The only way I’d do it is if they put a closed cockpit over the car, and tested it, and thought that was a good direction for safety. But, no.”
Wilson, 37, was killed last August at Pocono Raceway during IndyCar’s most recent 500-mile race. He was IndyCar’s first fatality since Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas in October, 2011.