Kurt Busch Has Indy 500 Advice for Kyle Larson: 'I'm Proud of Him'

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Kurt Busch Has Indy 500 Advice for Kyle LarsonChris Graythen - Getty Images
  • Kurt Busch, who last raced in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2022, is one of a handful of drivers to race in both the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 on the same weekend.

  • Busch raced both Memorial Day weekend races in 2014.

  • The 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion says that Kyle Larson can score a top-5 finish at Indianapolis.

There are certain perks that are available to the retired race car driver.

No longer burdened by a week-to-week schedule of driving, promoting, testing and simply being everything a top-level driver must be to thrive, the freshly retired has a sort of new lease on life.

For Kurt Busch, that road led him to Monaco this week, where he’s enjoying all the niceties of that spot on the globe while preparing to take in Sunday’s Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix in person, a bucket-list item for many auto racing devotees.

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Kurt Busch gets ready to run the Indy 500 in 2014.Chris Graythen - Getty Images

Busch, who last raced in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2022, is one of a handful of drivers who’ve had the experience of racing in two of the three Memorial Day weekend motorsports extravaganzas. A regular in Cup, he ran in the Coca-Cola 600, the concluding event of motorsports’ biggest day, year after year, then added on the Indianapolis 500 in 2014.


Busch said he brought along a helmet to Monaco this week. You know, just in case.

“Being in Monaco this week has been a lifelong dream of mine,” Busch said. “I raced on Memorial Day weekend for so many years, and, with one of the first weekends I have off from that I wanted to go to Monaco. Just enjoying the atmosphere and trying to say hello to as many people as possible. I’m immersing myself in the Monaco experience. It’s been quite a ride.”

Busch won 34 times in a 22-year Cup career, claiming the championship in 2004. He ran the Indy-Charlotte double in 2014, finishing a surprising sixth in the 500 with Andretti Autosport.

He has kept up with Kyle Larson’s adventure as Larson tries to become the next in line to attempt 1,100 miles of major-league racing in one day. Larson has surprised many observers by adapting to Indy cars quickly, qualifying fifth for Sunday's Indianapolis race.

“I felt like he would adapt to it a little quicker than me with all of his different racing experiences,” Busch said. “But once you get into a pack with other cars, making passes, getting down pit road without penalties and making mistakes—that’s when it changes a little bit. You have to stick with fundamentals. No mistakes.”

Busch said Larson took an important step by attending last year’s Indy 500 as a spectator to experience one of the biggest days in auto racing before actually participating in it.

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NASCAR champion Kurt Busch finished sixth in the 2014 Indianapolis 500.Chris Graythen - Getty Images

“That’s one thing I should have done,” Busch said. “Go there the year before and knock out all the pageantry and newness and everything the Indy 500 presents to the world. That track is so important to Memorial Day weekend. So he was already a step ahead. I’m proud of him and the effort that team is putting behind him.”

Busch said Larson can score a top-five finish. “That’s one goal I had three-quarters through the race,” he said. “Any time I take fans for a ride for a few laps on a track, they always ask how we’re able to do this for 500 miles. I told Larson to be ready. It’s very new, and you’re going to be worn out.”

In 2014, Busch was racing in the shadows of the lead pack in the closing miles of the 500, a race eventually won by Ryan Hunter-Reay.

“I saw what was going on ahead of me with the blocks, the draft, the aggressiveness,” he said. “It’s just like a NASCAR race. Every 100 laps that go by, everything ramps up. I thought to myself, ‘Do I have what it takes to race against these guys at 220 miles per hour at a track that they already know and have won at?’ Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves were ahead of me. In my mirror were Will Power and Sebastien Bourdais. I said, ‘Whoa, these are the best of the best. What do I have in my pocket to beat them?’ And I didn’t have that.

“The race unfolded in a really positive way for me to finish sixth. I was racing Juan Pablo Montoya for fifth, but I figured he was going to push me out into the ‘not-good’ zone. I backed off a little bit. But with sixth, I definitely overachieved.”