CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Kurt Busch's moonlighting gig at Indy was a smashing success. His day job in NASCAR was a bust courtesy of a blown engine, sending his bid to complete "The Double" up in smoke.
Busch was game for completing all 1,100 miles of the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day. His desire willing but his car parts weak, Busch's run at racing history ended late Sunday night not because of a wreck or weather, but a faulty engine that left his No. 41 Chevrolet a smoky, steaming mess.
Months spent training like a cadet and crisscrossing the country for the doubleheader ended in an empty garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway. His race came to a halt about six hours after Busch starred in Indianapolis, driving his backup car to a sensational sixth-place finish.
"I can't let what happened here dampen the mood on what happened up in Indianapolis," he said.
Busch completed about 907 miles in his quest to join Tony Stewart as the only other driver to complete the back-to-back races. "The Double" has been attempted by just three drivers, the last being Robby Gordon in 2004. Only Stewart in 2001 successfully completed the two races, finishing sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch qualified 28th for the Coca-Cola 600 but had to start the 400-lap race at the rear of the field because he didn't make it to the track in time for the driver's meeting. He arrived at the track via helicopter about an hour before the start of the Sprint Cup race.
His car was a problem from the start, and he spent a chunk of the race a lap down. Once his engine blew, his shot was over.
"It acted like it swallowed three cylinders all at once," he said. "It's kind of a shame. It symbolizes how tough it has been for (my NASCAR) team. I thought it was great racing in traffic. The feel of the stock car right after driving the IndyCar is a feeling I'll never forget."
The first leg of Busch's racing doubleheader put the sport on notice he can handle any type of car. The NASCAR champion-turned-Indy rookie made it look easy at the Brickyard.
He stepped out of the IndyCar, raised his arms in triumph, and hugged his girlfriend. His crew squeezed their way toward him down the slender Indianapolis Motor Speedway pit road for fist bumps and well wishes. His face red, throat dry, and hair slicked in sweat, Busch tossed his helmet in the No. 26.
With 500 miles down and 600 ahead, he was still dressed in his firesuit when he took a seat in the back of an Indiana State Trooper's car and pulled out of the garage at 3:30 p.m., bound for his flight to North Carolina.
Once in the air on the Cessna Citation X that took him to Charlotte Motor Speedway, his girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, tweeted a photo of Busch and her 9-year-old son, Houston, asleep on the plane. Busch landed at about 4:50 p.m., after a 47-minute ride.