Kurt Busch getting quicker in Indy 500 practice

Kurt Busch of Las Vegas moved up the speed charts in practice for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Monday, posting a top speed of 222.700 mph — the ninth-fastest lap of the day — at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Busch, attempting auto racing’s so-called double — driving in the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, both on May 25 — was in the top five until the final 20 minutes of practice when nearly all the cars took to the 2.5-mile oval and began setting fast speeds with drafting partners.

Busch logged 95 laps — nearly half a 500-mile race — in the No. 26 Honda.

“He’s sneaking up on it,” said teammate Marco Andretti, who posted the second-fastest speed of the day with a lap of 224.037 mph.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, another of Busch’s teammates in the Andretti Autosport stable, posted the day’s top speed of 225.025 mph. The former series champ was the only driver to top 225 mph on an overcast day on which intermittent rain sprinkles fell.

Three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves, Justin Wilson and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top five in practice as 30 cars turned laps.

Qualifying for the Indy 500 begins on Saturday with pole-day runs on Sunday.

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