Q: Well, it's finally official...Kurt Busch has announced that he's going to run the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. With that said, what are your realistic expectations for Kurt in his first try at "The Double?" And, is Kurt the only NASCAR driver that will give this a shot in 2014?
Jay Matheny, Mayfield, KY
RM: Andretti Autosport usually has fast cars at Indianapolis so I would expect Kurt to qualify in the top 20 and if he runs all day maybe get a top-15 finish (geez that sounds like a NASCAR soundbite). Yes, he’s the only one we may ever see until Kyle Busch wins a Cup crown for Joe Gibbs. He definitely wants to try Indy.
Q: I for one am excited about Kurt Busch driving for Andretti in May. I can’t think of any downsides unless he gets injured. He has started rebuilding his reputation, growing from a brat to a guy who wants to be perceived as able to drive anything for anybody and drive the wheels off it! Great news for Indy. I was also happy to hear Villeneuve will be getting the Schmidt Peterson ride and I don’t think he is washed up; I agree with Pruett’s assessment of the value that the 1995 “500” and CART champ and '97 F1 Champ can bring. Hopefully these developments will help the series attract a few more entries and we can actually get a Bump Day. Busch, especially, will garner wide North American attention, don’t you think?
Trevor Bohay, Kamloops, BC, Canada
RM: I love the fact Kurt Busch has the stones to try another discipline at the highest level and he showed his moxey the first time he tested a Champ Car at Sebring and again last summer when he ran RHR's car at IMS. It's going to give the Indy 500 more media coverage and if IndyCar was smart it would charter a plane and fly the NASCAR press to Indy and back to Charlotte.
Q: I'm very excited for the return of Jacques Villeneuve. I care little for the retread talk and people complaining, I think he has shown that he can still race. How he didn't pull off the win in some of those NASCAR road races is beyond me, he seemed to be the fastest in all of them. What I love is the symbolism in all of this. We have the last pre-split Indy winner returning for his first race in the post-split era. Thinking of it that way makes it a very joyful occasion in my opinion. A certain "my son who was lost has been found" biblical story comes to mind. Hopefully we can all use this to further heal the wounds of the split and move on; this should be a springboard for the future.
John, Dayton, Ohio
RM: True. Had there not been unification, Ray Harroun would have won the first Indy 500 and Jacques would have won the last in 1995. One thing I’ve always liked about him is that old-school soul he’s got about going fast, danger and taking chances. He’s very much his father’s son and gives Indy another good storyline.
Q: You will be flooded with emails about Jacques Villeneuve this week I am sure and someone will probably already ask this but: would JV also run the inaugural Indy Grand Prix on the road course in early May or just the Indy 500? Any other drivers that you have heard for that matter doing one-offs on the road course?
Dan, Louisville, KY
RM: No, he’s got a commitment to RallyCross and doing F1 commentary so only one race in May. Don’t know of any one-offs but it would be cool if somebody gave Sage Karam and Conor Daly a ride for the road course.
Q: I am very happy to hear of Jacques’ return to Indy. He was a driver who deserved to win when he did, and would have won more if he had been part of a team other than BAR Honda. Of all the cars on the F1 grid at the time, they were the most likely to have mechanical problems, and did with great regularity. Jacques has been involved in all sorts of motorsports in recent years and I am sure he will be able to get up to speed by the start of the race. He certainly won’t be a rolling chicane, and it will be interesting to see the race between him and Montoya. Now if we could only get other retired racers to come out for another go, like PT, Carpentier, de Ferran, etc, and it is sad that we will not be seeing Dario try to win another 500. I agree with those who say we need more of the young drivers in the race, but their time will come when the older guys are gone.
RM: Well don’t forget JV left his championship-winning team just one year later, for a money grab at BAR that made him rich but left him in a gunfight with a knife. I do wish there would have been a proper farewell for Paul Tracy, especially at Indianapolis, and I was kidding with de Ferran and Bobby Rahal the other night they might consider making a comeback. Kidding. But, as much as we love nostalgia, IndyCar needs to make some new heroes.