Rain puts damper on Kurt Busch’s Indy 500 progress

How you can tell it’s still raining in Indianapolis:

When you log onto the Internet to watch practice for the Indy 500, and there’s nothing from the live timing and scoring feed, and instead they have posted a blog about the history of cars painted pink that have run at the Brickyard.

It rained most of the day at Indy before the racecars finally got onto the track for a little over an hour.

The No. 26 car being driven by Las Vegas’ Kurt Busch was not among them.

When it started to rain and the forecast looked bleak, Busch flew back to North Carolina to take care of obligations leading up to Saturday night’s NASCAR all-star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Busch, trying to become the first driver in a decade to race in the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, posted a speed of 224.159 mph on Tuesday. At the time it was the third-fastest lap of the practice week leading up to qualification attempts beginning Saturday.

“It definitely wasn’t on my radar,” Busch said of setting a fast time.

“What I’ve been able to do as a student is each day progress at a strong rate, and progressing is being able to digest the information and then being able to apply it the next day. Each day out, the Andretti Autosport team has helped me with a game plan on what’s next.

“The biggest thing that’s been a surprise is honestly, just the open arms that everyone has had here and supportive of me being here and just kind of rooting me on.”

A hard crash by rookie driver Jack Hawksworth in Turn 3 and another band of showers halted a speed parade that saw nine drivers top 225 mph. Hawksworth was not injured.

Simon Pagenaud, winner of Saturday’s inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course who drives for car owner Sam Schmidt of Las Vegas, posted the fastest lap of 226.122 mph.

J.R. Hildebrand, former 500 winners Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves and Schmidt’s second driver, Mikhail Aleshin of Russia, rounded out the top five.