- Associated Press - Saturday, May 11, 2013

MONTEREY, CALIF. (AP) - There was a lot of attention on former NASCAR champion Kurt Busch’s test this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in an Andretti Autosport Indy car.

Busch may one day join the likes of John Andretti, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart as drivers who have attempted the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

But there are three drivers doing a doubleheader this weekend as practice opened in Indianapolis on Saturday.

Ryan Briscoe, the pole-sitter in last year’s Indy 500, and Townsend Bell were 2,300 miles away from Indy on Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. They are competing in the four-hour American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron race.

Conor Daly, a rookie in this year’s field, raced Saturday in the GP3 Series race in Barcelona, Spain. He finished third Saturday, and will race in the second GP3 race of the weekend Sunday at Barcelona before traveling to Indianapolis for Indy’s Rookie Orientation Program.

At Laguna Seca, Briscoe was scheduled to co-drive the No. 552 Honda P2 prototype for Level 5 Motorsports with Scott Tucker in the P2 category. Bell is sharing the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Ferrari F458 with Bill Sweedler in the GT class. As soon as the checkered flag drops, Bell and Briscoe will begin their respective journeys to Indianapolis.

Briscoe was scheduled to fly overnight to Indianapolis and be in the No. 8 Honda-Dallara for Chip Ganassi Racing at noon on Sunday.

Bell will join Panther Racing on Monday for his first practice laps in the No. 60 Chevrolet-Dallara. It’s the second consecutive year that Bell will do both races.

“It was great for me last year because Laguna is mostly left-handers,” Bell said. “It was strangely nice to be on track since I rarely race an IndyCar outside of the Indy 500. It’s really nice to have a proper race weekend here, even though it’s a completely different kind of car and a different kind of track. It does help me. I feel like I can show up with a lot of the rust knocked off, if you will. It’s fun.

“Last year, I was in the car nine or 10 consecutive days between Laguna testing, practice, racing and then straight to Indy with good weather the whole week straight through qualifying. If you can do 10 consecutive days in any kind of race car, that’s the perfect kind of week. It’s a lot of fun.”

Briscoe, on the other hand, is doing it for the first time. His full-time job this season is racing in ALMS with Level 5, but his schedule for 2013 includes four of the world’s most prestigious races in the 12 Hours of Sebring _ which he won in March alongside Tucker and Marino Franchitti _ the Indy 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June and October’s Bathurst 1000 in his native Australia.

“I definitely feel lucky to be able to compete in all of them and compete in these races with teams that are fully capable of providing the victories,” Briscoe said. “I’ve got a busy schedule going on this year for sure, there’s no doubt, but certainly I just go to all of these races and try to put myself in contention.”

He’s looking forward to getting to Indy and working with Ganassi teammates Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon, drivers who have won the race.

“Really good friends of mine, as well,” he said. “Pretty quickly after that, we’re in Le Mans mode and off we go. What an amazing event; I’ve never been before. I can’t wait. This team has been, Marino has been, and everyone has been talking about it. I just can’t wait for it. There’s a lot on my plate this year and I just feel really lucky to be able to do it all.”

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