Can Kurt Busch survive the double?
Earlier this week Kurt crashed his IndyCar during practice. The car was not repairable, and he was forced to move to a backup car. Parker Kligerman is on stand-by for Kurt in NASCAR, but he has no stand-by driver in the IndyCar series. The double has been attempted 12 times, with Robby Gordon giving it a go a total of six times. Tony Stewart has done it twice, and is by far the king of the double. His best finishes came in 2001, when he finished sixth in Indianapolis and third in Charlotte, but in 1999, while still a rookie in NASCAR, he completed it for the first time. His ninth in Indy and fourth in Charlotte was something to brag about. Although it has been many years since Tony completed his runs, he undoubtedly has had a ton of tips to offer Kurt. Kurt is asking his followers to pledge dollars for each lap he completes. The money raised will go to support the men and women of the Armed Forces. In my opinion, this is a great way to accomplish what Kurt calls simply "a bucket list item" and raise money for a great cause.
Jimmie Johnson is on the pole for the Charlotte 600. Keselowski starts alongside. Jimmie still doesn't have a win this year, and although the team claims there is no pressure, and they aren't worried, the celebration in the pit when he won the pole says otherwise. Next week marks the half way point in the regular season and while there will be plenty of opportunities for the 48 car to win in the coming weeks, there can be no doubt that the team wants to get it done sooner rather than later. Matt Kenseth (Mr. Consistency) sits second in points and also doesn't have a win this season....yet. In fact, of the top ten in the standings, there are five drivers with wins and five without. Kevin Harvick, with two wins, sits in 15th.
The standings bring the question, is the new rule awarding a Chase spot with a win a good one?
On the one hand, it guarantees a great race for those drivers who have not had a win yet in the season. They desperately want that win to get into the Chase. Then you have the drivers who already have that win. Are they going to be racing their absolute best to win the race? Or will be that small voice inside his head that says "I already have the win, I don't need to race that hard"?
The second half of the regular season will tell that story, I suppose.
There are several drivers with multiple wins in the Coca-Cola 600. Jeff Gordon has four. Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne have three each. Harvick has two. The double-doer, Kurt Busch, has one.
There could be a new winner in this weekend's race and there could be a repeat winner. With Jimmie Johnson starting on the pole, it just could be his weekend.