It’s hard to get Kurt Busch out of his element, but hand-feeding stingrays Wednesday at Crown Center’s Sea Life Aquarium certainly was a new experience.
“You just don’t know what you’re going to get with a stingray, the way they come up to you and they want to suck the squid or the fish out of your hand instead of actually using jaws,” Busch said. “Some are aggressive. They’re climbing right over the other one to try to get to the food.”
Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, also fed squid to sharks and a bowmouth guitarfish from a pole during a visit to promote the upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup race on Oct. 18 at Kansas Speedway.
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“I haven’t fed animals at an aquarium before,” said Busch, who currently sits in seventh place after two races in the Chase’s Challenger Round. “I’ve been on a boat trip, where we have stingrays come up to the boat in the Cayman Islands or been out chumming with some buddies. But I’ve never done it in a formal setting like this.”
Several of the animals splashed around, jockeying for position as Busch fed them with help from the Sea Life staff, but that’s nothing compared with the feeding frenzy that awaits him Sunday during the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Four of the 16 drivers in the Chase will be eliminated after Dover. The remaining 12 drivers will be compete in the Contender Round at Kansas Speedway.
The Contender Round kicks off Oct. 10 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and concludes Oct. 25 at Talladega Superspeedway with the top eight moving into the Eliminator Round.
Busch, whose best finish at Kansas Speedway is a runner-up finish in 2013, said Kansas Speedway’s Hollywood Casino 400 is pivotal, because no driver wants to be on the bubble heading to Talladega.
“I think it’s one of the sleeper races because if you win here, you have a hall pass through Talladega and you don’t want to be one of the guys that have to worry about all of that madness,” Busch said.
The upcoming race weekend at Kansas Speedway also features the Full Throttle S’loonshine 98.9, which serves as the season finale for the ARCA Racing Series on Oct. 16, and the NASCAR Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300 on Oct. 17.