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Indy 500 door still open as Kurt Busch prepares for Indianapolis test

NASCAR's Kurt Busch Will Test an Andretti Autosport Car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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INDIANAPOLIS - NASCAR driver Kurt Busch said his scheduled test of an IndyCar on Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway isn't an audition as much as it is a chance to have some fun with new racing pals.

But during the first of two media conferences he'll participate in related to his newest adventure, Busch didn't rule out making a start in the Indianapolis 500 as early as this year.

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Kurt Busch (USA TODAY Sports)

"I've been more the kid in the candy store. It's hard to answer specific questions," Busch said Wednesday when asked if racing both Indianapolis and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the same day is possible in the current schedule. "I don't even know when the schedule lays out for this year, or know if you can do it logistically. But there's faster planes and faster helicopters these days."

Busch flew in from New York Wednesday afternoon to get fitted at the Andretti Autosport team shop before the test Thursday at the 2.5-mile track. He'll take to a track he's only familiar with in a stock car, driving a decent piece of equipment: Ryan Hunter-Reay's No. 1 Dallara that the reigning series champion expects to race himself in the 500.

Busch, currently the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, brought his dad on the trip and said the test is a product a previous relationship with team owner Michael Andretti.

"It's a dream come true and a unique opportunity in the world of motorsports," Busch said. "I'm just a racer, and if someone if handing out a race car to go drive, I'm going to drive it."

Andretti noted some previous experience Busch had testing an IndyCar at Sebring International Raceway as a reason that Busch won't have trouble in Thursday's outing.

"This was a great opportunity to get him in a car and out on an oval," Andretti said. "I'm sure he's going to get right up to speed."

Andretti joined Busch in leaving the door open for the former Sprint Cup champion to try his hand in IndyCar.

"You never know. We'll look and see where it leads and see if he has fun," Andretti said. "Let's see what happens. That'd be cool if he was racing one of our cars. That'd be really cool."

Busch talked to former Penske teammate Sam Hornish Jr. - the 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner - Wednesday morning and reversed the roles they had in NASCAR where Busch served as mentor during Hornish's early years in stock cars.

"That helps some of the butterflies go away," Busch said. "But there's never anything that can prepare you for trying to hold a car wide open at Indianapolis going into turn one."

There's little doubt that both Andretti and Busch are taking Thursday's test seriously. Busch expects to pass a version of IMS' Rookie Orientation Program that would make him eligible to practice, qualify and race in this year's 500. But he's also seeking enjoyment first.

"To go fast [Thursday] is the objective," he said, "but to have fun with it - that's the overall objective."

He later lamented how motorsports have become such a business that drivers don't have the options they used to in attempting to win races across several series. The self-proclaimed "Outlaw" seemed to pine for the old days when legends like A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti competed in all forms of racing, including open-wheel and NASCAR. A few changes, Busch insisted, could make things like the rarity of completing the IndyCar-NASCAR Memorial Day weekend double a reality.

"This has turned into a business, the way motorsport operates," he said. "If we could get the times sorted out, you would have more interest in sponsors and drivers and owners wanting to do the double. That's what fans want to see."

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