2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch and 2010 V8 Supercars champion James Courtney swapped cars for a promotional event at Austin's Circuit of The Americas on Tuesday. The venue will host the fifth round of this year's V8 series on May 18-19. It will be the first time an Australian motorsport series will hold a full championship race in the U.S.
Busch was quick to praise Courtney's Holden – whose road-going version is a twin of NASCAR's Chevy SS in the GM family – saying its balance in particular had impressed. The V8 Supercar is around 400lbs lighter than Busch's NASCAR Chevrolet but trails on power, producing 650hp compared to the Chevrolet's 950.
“It's amazing, there are similarities and differences between the two cars,” Busch said. “Sitting on the right side, shifting a bunch of gears with my left arm, you're not in your comfort zone and it's hard to understand what task of the car is next until you start checking things off your list that you learn the racetrack as well. So there were quite a few things going on. Information overload, to say the least.
“But it definitely makes it interesting to drive both cars on the track at the same time. The quickest way I can compare an Australian V8 Supercar to what people are familiar to in the States is it's a muscle car but it's a sports car at the same time," Busch said. "[It has] much more power than what you see in the GT classes in the Grand-Am series.
"And the ability, [from] what I see on TV, for these guys to run side by side, nose to tail, is the control of the cars. The balance they have makes it a treat to drive."
Courtney, who lies eighth after the opening three rounds of this year's championship, added: "It was pretty wild sitting on the other side of the car and shifting an H-pattern gearbox. The car was bigger and heavier. It has so much power.
“The steering wheel, it feels like it's massive. But to run side-by-side I was pretty nervous because it's moving around a bit more than what I'm used to. Another thing that is quite different is the braking performance – it's built for speedways, not really road courses. It's a very different machine.”
"It was also quite cool to blow past the V8 car on the straight! I'm forever grateful that the team gave me this opportunity."