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Auto Racing: US racer to attempt Indy 500-NASCAR double

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US stock car racer Kurt Busch was named Tuesday to drive in the Indianapolis 500, giving him a chance to become the fourth driver to complete a unique one-day double.

The 2004 champion of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) will become the fifth driver for team owner Michael Andretti at the historic 2.5-mile (4km) Indy oval on the afternoon of May 25.

Then the 35-year-old American will take an airplane ride to Charlotte, North Carolina, and return to his regular car in time for the Coca-Cola 600 stock car race that night, the green flag flying only six hours after the Indy 500 begins.

"This is really to challenge myself within motorsports. It has always been a dream of mine," Busch said.

"Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer, a throwback. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it."

Tony Stewart, co-owner of Busch's NASCAR ride, is the only racer to complete all 1,100 miles on the same day, finishing sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte in 2001. The US driver also did the double in 1999.

The others to do the double were John Andretti in 1994 and Robby Gordon in 2004.

"I want to pop quiz everyone who's done it to learn as much as I can," Busch said.

He also wants to learn from IndyCar veteran racer Andretti and his new teammates -- Canada's James Hinchcliffe, Colombian Carlos Munoz and Americans Marco Andretti and 2012 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Busch tested an IndyCar last May at Indianapolis and passed the mandatory rookie orientation program.

"That was a whole kid in a candy store moment of experiencing an open-wheel car at 220 mph," Busch said.

"You can definitely get a different appreciation for the track and its heritage with an open-wheel car versus a stock car that I've done the last 15 years there.

"It got my mind going and my juices flowing. The adrenaline and excitement was there and it fueled the passion to work on the details and turn the dream into a reality. Now here we are."

After a May 10 NASCAR night race in Kansas, Busch will go to Indy on May 11 to start testing then juggle Indy 500 qualifying and qualifying and racing at Charlotte.

"I'm really excited to have Kurt come onboard for the Indy 500," Andretti said.

"He did a great job for us when he tested last year. He's obviously a natural talent, and we feel he is going to take to the Indy car quickly and have a competitive month with us."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140304/auto-racing-us-racer-attempt-indy-500-nascar-double