HomeNASCAR NewsNASCAR Drivers NewsDrivers Who Attempted the Double, Larson Next in Line 

Drivers Who Attempted the Double, Larson Next in Line 

Drivers Who Attempted the Double: As Kyle Larson prepares to undertake the formidable Memorial Day weekend double, he aligns himself with a select group of drivers who have previously faced this grueling challenge. Icons such as John Andretti, Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart, and Kurt Busch have all tested their courage in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. Their endeavors were marked by mechanical hurdles, an intense schedule, and an unwavering commitment to motorsport. Larson’s upcoming attempt not only highlights his own tenacity but also invites us to revisit the storied legacy of those who have dared to push the boundaries of their endurance and skill. How will Larson’s undertaking compare?

Key Takeaways

  • Kyle Larson is the latest driver attempting the Memorial Day weekend double, starting fifth at the Indianapolis 500.
  • John Andretti first tried the double in 1994, finishing 10th at Indianapolis.
  • Robby Gordon made five double attempts between 1997 and 2004, completing the most laps.
  • Tony Stewart set a record by completing all 600 laps in one day, finishing 4th at Charlotte in 1999.
  • Kurt Busch attempted the double in 2014, finishing 6th at the Indianapolis 500 before his Coca-Cola 600 race ended due to engine failure.

Kyle Larson’s Attempt

Kyle Larson is set to tackle the challenge of competing in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. This 1,100-mile endeavor, known as the Memorial Day weekend double, has only been attempted by four drivers in motorsports history.

Larson, a 31-year-old Californian, aims to become the fifth, a proof of his ambition and skill. For Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, Larson has impressively qualified fifth, positioning him favorably in the competitive field. He will pilot Arrow McLaren’s No. 17 car, with the race slated to start around 12:45 p.m. Eastern.

The logistical precision required for this doubleheader is monumental. Immediately after completing the Indy 500, Larson will be flown to Charlotte, North Carolina, to shift into his more familiar No. 5 Chevrolet for NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, which begins at 6 p.m. Historically, the tight schedule has been plagued by different challenges. Weather delays, mechanical issues, and late arrivals have destroyed previous attempts.

Indeed, the current forecast in Indianapolis, calling for a strong chance of rain, adds an unpredictable element to Larson’s ambitious schedule. It is worth noting that only Tony Stewart has managed to finish on the lead lap of both races on the same day, highlighting the tough nature of this motorsport feat.

Larson’s attempt is significant, as it marks the latest since Kurt Busch’s effort in 2014. His bid covers the spirit of endurance and versatility that defines top-tier racing, promising a day for both the driver and motorsport enthusiasts alike.

Drivers Who Attempted the Double

John Andretti’s Attempt

John Andretti carved his name into motorsport history in 1994 by becoming the initial driver to attempt the grueling Memorial Day weekend double. The nephew of racing legend Mario Andretti and cousin of former IndyCar driver Michael Andretti, John took on the formidable challenge of competing in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

Andretti’s attempt added a unique chapter to the storied Andretti family legacy. Driving for A.J. Foyt, a four-time Indy 500 winner and long-time rival of Mario Andretti, John managed to set aside the historic feud between the two racing giants. In the No. 33 Ford, Andretti secured a commendable 10th place finish at Indianapolis after starting from the 10th position, completing 196 of the 200 laps.

However, the following leg of his double attempt at the Charlotte Motor Speedway proved more challenging. Starting from ninth, Andretti’s race was cut short by a faulty crankshaft, relegating him to a 36th place finish after completing 220 of the 400 laps. Despite this, Andretti’s combined total of 416 laps completed across both events remains a tribute to his endurance and determination.

John Andretti’s pioneering attempt at the double etched his name in racing lore, inspiring future drivers to test their mettle in this demanding dual endeavor. Despite never attempting the double again, Andretti’s legacy endures, especially after his passing in January 2020, as a trailblazer who pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible in motorsport.

Robby Gordon’s Attempts

Robby Gordon’s unwavering pursuit of the Memorial Day weekend double is a reflection of his dedication and resilience in the face of formidable challenges. His attempts at completing both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day are a proof of his tenacity, even when faced with adverse conditions.

Gordon made five attempts at the double, in the years 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2004. Here’s a glimpse into his remarkable adventure:

  1. Indianapolis 500 Performance:
  • Best starting position: 3rd (2003)
  • Best finish: 4th (1999)
  • Total laps completed: 669
  1. Coca-Cola 600 Performance:
  • Best starting position: 20th (2004)
  • Best finish: 12th (2003)
  • Total laps completed: 1,257
  1. Challenges Faced:
  • 1997: Rain caused the 500 to be completed the following day, eliminating the possibility of a true same-day double.
  • 2000: A rain-delayed start in Indy forced Gordon to miss the start of the Coca-Cola 600, with PJ Jones taking over.
  • 2004: Mechanical issues ended his attempt just 88 laps into the Indy 500.

Despite these setbacks, Gordon holds the record for the most attempts and the highest number of laps completed in double history, totaling 1,926 laps. His closest brush with the 1,100-mile goal came in 2002, falling short by just one lap due to a mechanical failure.

Gordon’s efforts highlight the sheer difficulty and unpredictability of attempting the Memorial Day weekend double. His legacy in this pursuit underscores the spirit of motorsport—a relentless drive to push boundaries and achieve greatness, no matter the obstacles.

Drivers Who Attempted the Double

Tony Stewart’s Attempts

Tony Stewart, affectionately known as ‘Smoke,’ made two valiant attempts at the Memorial Day weekend double in 1999 and 2001, showcasing his versatility and tenacity as a racing driver. Stewart’s dual participation in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 highlighted his profound dedication to motorsport and his ability to excel across different racing disciplines.

In 1999, Stewart undertook his initial double challenge, starting 24th at Indianapolis and finishing an impressive ninth. Later that day, he took to the track at Charlotte, starting from the 27th position and climbing his way to a commendable fourth-place finish. This marked a significant achievement, as Stewart became the foremost driver ever to complete all 600 laps in one day, a feat that remains unmatched.

Two years later, in 2001, Stewart returned with renewed vigor. He started 7th at Indianapolis and improved his finish to 6th. At Charlotte, he began from the 12th position and secured a solid third-place finish. Across both attempts, Stewart completed a remarkable 1,196 out of 1,200 laps, demonstrating his endurance and skill.

Growing up in Indiana with dreams of winning at the Indianapolis 500, Stewart’s passion for racing was evident. Although he only made five career starts in the Indy 500, his performance during the double attempts left an indelible mark on racing history. Stewart’s Memorial Day weekend endeavors showcased his ability to seamlessly shift between open-wheel and stock car racing, earning him respect and admiration in both domains.

Kurt Busch’s Attempt

In 2014, Kurt Busch undertook the challenging Memorial Day weekend double, showcasing his determination and versatility as a racing driver. His endeavor marked him as the most recent driver to tackle this test of endurance and skill, teaming up with Michael Andretti’s IndyCar team for the Indianapolis 500 and later competing in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.

Busch’s pursuit began on a promising note at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Demonstrating his adaptability, he qualified 12th on the grid, positioning himself in the fourth row of the 11-row field. On race day, Busch’s performance was commendable as he navigated the demanding 500 miles to secure a remarkable sixth-place finish, tying the highest finish by a driver attempting the double.

Transitioning to the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, Busch started from the 28th position, facing a significant challenge to climb through the field. Despite his valiant efforts, his quest was cut short by a blown engine, forcing him to retire after completing 271 laps.

To paint a vivid picture of Busch’s 2014 double attempt:

  1. Indianapolis 500: Qualified 12th, finished 6th, completed 200 laps.
  2. Coca-Cola 600: Qualified 28th, finished 40th, completed 271 laps.
  3. Total Laps Completed: 471 out of a possible 1100 laps.

Reflecting on his endeavor, Busch expressed a deep sense of fulfillment, stating that the attempt would remain a ‘memory I’ll have forever.‘ His pursuit, while ending in mechanical misfortune at Charlotte, highlighted his resilience and passion for racing, leaving an indelible mark on the storied history of the Memorial Day double.

Drivers Who Attempted the Double

News in Brief: Drivers Who Attempted the Double

The tradition of attempting the Memorial Day double stands as a tribute to the endurance and commitment of drivers in motorsport. From John Andretti to Kurt Busch, each has faced and overcome significant challenges.

Kyle Larson’s upcoming endeavor promises to add another chapter to this storied legacy. By pushing the boundaries of their physical and mental limits, these drivers exemplify the relentless pursuit of excellence that defines the spirit of racing.

Also Read: Kyle Larson Worried About Weather for Hendrick 1100

Khushal Bhatia
Khushal Bhatiahttps://slicksandsticks.com/
Khushal Bhatia, a distinguished BA (Hons) English graduate from St. Stephen College (University of Delhi) and a holder of a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism (English) from IIMC Delhi, is an accomplished journalist. Currently affiliated with Slicksandsticks.com, Khushal is an expert in covering a range of sports topics with a specialization in motorsports, particularly NASCAR. His insightful articles explore the nuances of the sporting world, providing readers with comprehensive analysis and the latest updates. With a commitment to unbiased reporting, Khushal's expertise and authoritative voice make him a reliable source for sports enthusiasts.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Follow Us

Most Popular