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IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe believes Kurt Busch can win Indianapolis 500

Apr 28, 2014, 12:34 AM EDT

Kurt Busch, who will compete in his first Indianapolis 500 on May 25, is shown in a practice session for Andretti Autosport at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (AP Photo/AJ Mast). Kurt Busch, who will compete in his first Indianapolis 500 on May 25, is shown in a practice session for Andretti Autosport at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (AP Photo/AJ Mast).

It may just be one teammate talking up the merits of another teammate, but IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe believes NASCAR driver and Indy car rookie Kurt Busch is a legitimate contender to win the Indianapolis 500 in his first-ever start there on May 25.

“He’s in an Andretti Autosport car so I definitely believe he can win,” Hinchliffe told PopularSpeed.com’s Matt Weaver.

Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won Sunday’s IndyCar race in Birmingham, Ala., will both be Busch’s teammates in the 500, and it could wind up being a great day for Andretti Autosport.

“I think we’re going to be strong in the race and I think we’ve showed that the past couple of years,” Hinchcliffe said. “(Busch is) a professional. He has more professional races under his belt than the rest of the field combined with as many races as NASCAR runs and I’m sure he’s going to adapt pretty quickly.”

Busch, who will undergo his first day of rookie orientation on Tuesday, is hoping to become the first driver to attempt the so-called “double” since Robby Gordon‘s third try at the feat in 2004.

Other drivers who have attempted 1,100 total miles across two races on two diametrically opposite types of tracks and in completely different types of race cars include John Andretti and NASCAR star Tony Stewart.

Having been friends with Busch since he won the first Sprint Cup championship in 2004, Hunter-Reay told Weaver that even if he wasn’t Busch’s teammate for the 500, he still would his effort in high regard.

“For Kurt to do what he’s doing, it takes a lot of guts,” Hunter-Reay told Weaver. “To jump out of your Cup car and hop into an Indy car and immediately hop right back into a Cup car, I respect him for that.”

(Of course, if that happens, it’s likely Busch won’t make it to Charlotte for the green flag, given all the post-500 celebrations, trophy presentations, interviews and other commitments he’d have to take part in.)

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  1. Jeff - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:27 AM

    I wonder if Hinch will have any rookie move comments for Busch.

  2. dameslc - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:44 AM

    Well anything is possible but so incredibly unlikely though. Kurt Busch is a great nascar driver and champion but he has no experience in open wheel racing and if Hinchcliffe is serious about that, he seems to not be giving the IndyCar series’ field much credit as being a competitive series with a lot of talented drivers. Tony Stewart who actually has a lot of open wheel experience raced in five Indianapolis 500’s with a best 5th place finish. He actually did well there when the IRL and CART were split and the Indy 500 fields were rather watered down. he started on the pole in 1996 and led 44 laps but remember how watered down that field was as that was the inaugural IRL season with a three race schedule and the Indy 500 being on the IRL schedule. I think his main competition was Arie Luyendyke and Roberto Guerrero who were almost like a couple of Indy 500 ringers. I forget who even won that one; either Buddy or Jacques Lazier I believe. He did well in his second Indy 500 in `97 and led a lot of laps and finished fifth. He also ran that race in 2001 driving for Chip Ganassi and drove the same Ganassi Buick G-Force that Juan Montoya drove (2001 version) to victory in 2000 and got a sixth place finish. but Stewart was a real open wheel driver and not someone who spent his entire career in nascar. Anyway, if Tony Stewart as good of an open wheel driver as he was never won the Indy 500 in five starts, then I don’t believe that Kurt Busch has much of a chance. I think that this is just Kurt Busch fulfilling a life long dream but I have to believe that even Busch knows he really has no chance of winning it though

  3. techmeister1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    Kurt and brother Kyle have excellent driving ability. Unfortunately they both have head problems that need professional care. As far as skill Kurt has the potential to win the Indy 500 if he makes it to the end without crashing or some other issue. So do all the other drivers entered.

  4. testover6370 - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    The Dinger was a strong contender for a win last year until his belts came loose and he had to go off-sequence, and even after that he remained competitive. A good driver with a good team can do well at Indy, even if he doesn’t have recent open wheel experience. I expect JPM to do well too.

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