Kurt Busch has gained three pounds in the past couple of weeks knowing he will lose five times that much in one day of racing.


He’s got an aggressive workout routine, but it’s done little to help his aching hands and arms.

Busch will become the fourth driver to attempt “the double” on May 25 when he drives 500 miles for Andretti Autosport in the Indianapolis 500, then goes to his day job for a 600-mile race for Stewart-Haas Racing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The one thing he’s already learned is no amount of work will completely prepare him for what’s ahead.

“The excitement is building up,” Busch said. “It’s been great all this whole month. Just over the past year of putting two competitive contracts together, I have a chance to win with an Andretti Autosport car, and I’ve got a chance to win the Coke 600 with a Stewart-Haas car.”

Busch has the benefit of working for Tony Stewart, who did the double in 1999 and 2001. While Stewart posted a sixth-place finish at Indianapolis in 2001 and a third-place finish later that night at Charlotte, Stewart’s primary focus was, and still is, with NASCAR.

“There’s a 600-mile event where I’ll be driving the Haas-Automation Chevy, and this team here that I’m with, they’re rooting me on. But I still have my job to do when I show up,” he said. “And there has to still be a lot of focus around the stock-car side of this.”

John Andretti was the first to do the double in 1994, and Robby Gordon attempted it five times, but three of the races in Indianapolis were affected by rain.

The logistics are mind-numbing. Busch completed a rookie orientation last week at Indianapolis, and he practiced, qualified and raced at Kansas Speedway last Friday and Saturday.

By Sunday, he was back at Indianapolis to start shaking down one of Michael Andretti’s Honda-powered Dallaras. He will qualify his No. 41 Chevrolet at Charlotte on Friday for the Sprint All-Star race, be back to Indianapolis Saturday for qualifying and return to Charlotte on Saturday night for the all-star race.

There will more IndyCar qualifying on Sunday and practice on Monday. He has practice and qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 on May 22, a final practice at Indianapolis on May 23 and a pair of practice sessions at Charlotte on May 24.

The Indianapolis 500 will start at 12:15 p.m. on May 25; the Coca-Cola 600 will start at 6 p.m.

It will take a helicopter, police escort and a jet in Indianapolis, and another helicopter at Charlotte, to make the 430-mile trek between tracks on race day.

“We have our practice sessions all planned out, so it’s neat to have a mindset to know where we’ll be and what needs to be done on both sides of the garage area,” Busch said. “Mother Nature ultimately is in charge. She is dishing out a little bit more of a percentage chance of rain early in the week. And then it’s cool conditions with very consistent conditions Friday and Saturday next week up in Indy.

“Cessna has been phenomenal. They orchestrate all the logistics to fly me back and forth. The team here, Stewart-Haas, has been through this before, and the Andretti Autosport guys know that my day job at the end of the day is the Coke 600. So it’s been fun.”

Stewart is the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles in the double. Busch’s goal is to finish both races.

“I’d love to finish in the top half of the field at Indy,” he said. “I’d love to stay out of trouble all day. But once this week gets further down the road, I think with just the comfort level that I will gain, I’ll want more. But right now, it’s just finishing both races.”

Busch was 10th fastest in Tuesday’s practice session with an average speed of 222.770 mph.

“On the physical side of it, my hands have been very sore after each of the practice sessions just from the death grip on the wheel,” he said.