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The History of The Double; running the Indy 500 and Coke 600 in the same day

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane with team co-owner Tony Stewart after winning the 59th Annual DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 26, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

One of the toughest acts in racing, 1100 miles of wheel-to-wheel motorsport, in one day. It’s The Double, racing the Indianapolis 500 then the flight to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR’s longest race. It is a feat last tackled ten years ago and only completed by a few. This is the history of The Double.

The first Indianapolis 500 was run in 1911, 49 years before the first Coke 600 was ran. The two races carry a prestige like no other. IndyCar’s most historic race and NASCAR’s longest race.

Early years of The Double:

Originally, The Indy 500 was run on the observed Memorial Day holiday, Monday, so many drivers could run both races without any issues. The first NASCAR driver to attempt The Double was Curtis Turner. In 1963, he would pass his rookie orientation but crash in practice. Junior Johnson was on the entry list but did not attempt.

In 1971, the best running of the The Double takes place. Donnie Allison would race the 500 on May 26th, a Saturday, and finish 6th. The World 600, now Coke 600, was run on Sunday May 30th. Allison would win that race. To this day, he is the only driver to win one of the races in The Double

The invention of Musco Lights and their installation at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1992 allowed for the Coke 600 to be raced at night.

The first driver to race both races in the same day, carries one of the most famous names in racing; Andretti.

Modern Era of The Double:

John Andretti was the first driver to race Indianapolis and Charlotte on the same day. His families history in both series. His father Mario Andretti, won the 1967 Daytona 500 and 1969 Indy 500. Andretti would qualify for the 500, would reach as high as third in the race, and finish tenth before boarding a helicopter for the airport. He would reach the Charlotte Motor Speedway in time to start the race, but missed the drivers meeting, and was sent to the rear. An engine failure would relegate him to a 36th place finish.

Robby Gordon would be the next to attempt The Double. Weather would foul any true attempts at a ‘double’ as the 1997 Indianapolis 500 would be postponed to Monday and then later Tuesday. Gordon would wreck out of the Coke 600 and finish 36th. At Indy, a fire would result in him finishing 29th.

In Recent Years:

Tony Stewart, fresh out of the Indy Racing League, and now racing with Joe Gibbs Racing in NASCAR, would attempt The Double. First, in 1999, he would run for TriStar Motorsports. Starting 24th, he would finish 9th, four laps down. At Charlotte, he would lead thirteen laps and finish 4th in his first Coke 600.

Stewart would attempt The Double again in 2001. Racing with Chip Ganassi Racing, he would start seventh, led thirteen laps and finish sixth. His itinerary would have him receive two IV bags on his flight to Charlotte, where he would start twelfth. He would finish the race in third, the most successful, single day, running of The Double.

The last driver to attempt The Double would be Kurt Busch. Driving for Andretti Global, formerly Andretti Autosport, he qualified tenth, barely missing the Fast 10. He would wreck his Honda in practice, and went to a backup for Carb and Raceday. In the 500, he started 12th, fell back as low as 20th. He would finish sixth, tying Gordon and Stewart for the best finishing position. He was awarded Indy 500 Rookie of the Year.

Busch made it Charlotte, but like many, missed the drivers meeting and was forced to start at the rear. A blown engine on lap 275 would end his day. Kurt completed 906 of the 1,100 miles possible.

This year, Kyle Larson will be the next driver to complete The Double. Running with Arrow McLaren, he has qualified fifth for the Indy 500 and tenth for the Coke 600. Weather permiting, Larson has a legitimate chance of winning both races and becoming the only driver in the modern history of The Double to win one of the two races.

Kyle Larson’s double attempt begins at 11:00 PM ET on NBC with pre-race coverage of the Indianapolis 500, Sunday May 26th.


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