Skip to content

‘Rookie’ Kurt Busch, 1995 champ Jacques Villeneuve, three more to undergo Indy 500 orientation/refresher

Apr 22, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT

Jacques Villeneuve will be making his first return trip to Indianapolis since winning there in 1995 -- and only his third race ever there -- for this year's Indy 500. AP

It’s been 14 years since Kurt Busch was last called a rookie.

And even though Busch has a Sprint Cup championship trophy at home, he’s still a rookie open-wheel driver as far as the Indianapolis 500 is concerned.

That’s why Busch and four other drivers will take part in the rookie orientation or veteran driver refresher course to be eligible to compete in the May 25th Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the track announced Tuesday.

Busch will join four other drivers – Mikhail Aleshin, Martin Plowman, Jack Hawksworth and 1995 Indy 500 winner and former CART and F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve – for the three-pronged orientation and driving program on Tuesday, April 29th and Monday, May 5th (let’s hope the Sprint Cup race on Sunday, May 4 at Talladega doesn’t get postponed by rain).

Villeneuve will only have to complete the final two phases of the three-phase program to be recertified to race in the 500 because of his prior experience there.

Hard as it may seem to believe, this will be only the third time Villeneuve has competed at Indy – it seems like more – and the first time in nearly 20 years.

But his record to date there has been nothing short of stellar.

After finishing second in the 1994 Indy 500, he came back in 1995 to win the event, which also helped propel him to win that season’s CART championship, as well.

Villeneuve competed just those two seasons in CART and then went to Formula one for 11 years, where he won 11 races and the 1997 championship (winning seven races in that year alone).

The orientation/refresher is designed that all five drivers can potentially complete all three phases in one day. If they are able to do so, the second day would be for practice – or if they need more instruction.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

 

  1. testover6370 - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    I think Busch only needs to complete the refresher portion, since he completed the ROP last year.

    • indycarseries500 - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      Nope, you have to do the whole thing if you’ve never started the race. Does he even have to do it? I’m sure AA will do it for extra track time but Larry Foyt didn’t have to take it due to “prior experience” or did they do away with that provision after the merger?

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Video from NASCAR America

Remembering the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. R. Preece (1943)
  2. K. Busch (1666)
  3. M. Kenseth (1513)
  4. R. Newman (1415)
  5. L. Cassill (1294)
  1. D. Coby (1262)
  2. K. Kahne (1199)
  3. J. Johnson (1192)
  4. B. Keselowski (1186)
  5. W. Pitkat (1172)