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Kurt Busch just livin' the dream

LAS VEGAS -- Kurt Busch's dream scenario on May 25 would complicate a logistical nightmare beyond imagination.

The question was posed Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway: What if Busch did win the Indianapolis 500? How would he feel about cutting short the age-old victory party at The Greatest Spectacle in Racing so he can make it to Charlotte in time for the start of NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600?

Realizing that a win in his first competitive turn in an Indy car would be a pinch-me moment worthy of Hollywood, Busch didn't hold back -- oh, he positively glowed -- when he delivered his answer.

"I'd love to have that problem," Busch said, smiling. "Keep in mind I have zero experience in an Indy car and this will be the toughest challenge, especially when they drop the green flag. I think single-car runs, coming up to speed, going on qualifying runs, all that should handle itself. When they drop the green at Indianapolis and 33 cars barrel down into Turn 1 and all that dirty air and the movement of the cars and being able to digest closing rates at 220 [mph] versus stock cars that average around 185, everything is different.

"Let's say it does happen. There will be quick celebration in Victory Lane with the Borg-Warner, the chug of milk, of course, and that big wreath. I can't wait to hand that to Michael Andretti so he can wear it, and he can handle all the media while I got to run down to Charlotte.

"To respect the Indy 500 and to have that moment to win it, you can't let it pass by," continued Busch, who is promoting the Armed Forces Foundation in this venture. "Yet there are duties I have with Gene Haas and Tony Stewart with this 41 car. But there's a banquet on Monday to come back and to celebrate up in Indianapolis afterward."

In other words, Busch's reach-for-the-stars dilemma surrounding his much-ballyhooed Indy 500/Coke 600 double on Memorial Day weekend would be worth it. Absolutely.

Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion, is the first person to recognize the height of the mountain he is about to scale. To go from an open-wheel machine prepared by Andretti Autosport to a stock car in the Stewart-Haas Racing stable some 500 miles away -- and covering a combined 1,100 miles of asphalt -- will test Busch's limits physically and psychologically.

"It will be challenging, not knowing what to expect," he said. "... There's just no margin for error with an Indy car. You have to drive that car at 90 percent and you've got to trust it to go to that 99 percent level, and that's done by the best, that's done by the guys that are champions in that sport, the guys that have won the Indy 500 before."

Charlotte Motor Speedway president Marcus Smith, who sat alongside Busch on Saturday, called Busch's attempt at the double "probably the ultimate test in motorsports." Just three other drivers -- John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon -- have attempted it. Gordon was the last to try it (2004).

"Just attempting this is a huge feat in itself," said Smith, flanked by airmen and airwomen from nearby Nellis Air Force Base. "I've known Kurt for a long time and I know he doesn't do anything to be second, and everything from driving to where we're out shooting guns together, he's the kind of guy that doesn't like to do anything [for] second place."

Busch was asked if he would entertain doing the "triple" -- Monaco, Indy and Charlotte -- considering NASCAR team owner Gene Haas' interest in a Formula One program.

"I'd need a faster plane," Busch deadpanned. "Like the movie 'Jaws,' 'We're gonna need a bigger boat.'

"To me, with Gene Haas and his Formula One interest and filing the paperwork, that's all separate. But if things can bridge over and he needs a test driver, I'm not too old to be a test driver in Formula One. I might be too old to compete at the best of levels.

"Anything and everything with race cars, racetracks, I always try to challenge myself, to jump in whatever car is available and go have some fun with it."

Oh, he'll have fun Memorial Day weekend. So will we.