NASCAR will be hosting its longest race in the history of the sport, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway this week, and the drivers will be put to test with their skills, strength, and endurance on the run as they go all out in the 600 miles race for the first time in the Next-Gen car. The race will consist of four stages and each stage will be 100 laps. As a tribute to the U.S. Army, all the drivers will pay their respects to fallen Military Personnel on the account of Memorial Day Weekend which is generally at the end of the month of May.
Another race happening at this time of the year would be the iconic Indy 500 aka the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which is returning after 2 years. This is raced as part of the IndyCar Series, America’s biggest Championship Car racing. The Coca-Cola 600 and the Indy 500 are traditionally raced on the last Sunday of May, posing a difficulty for racers wanting to take part in both events, so the ‘Double Duty’ came into the picture when NASCAR drivers raced the Indy 500 and then go to race the Coca-Cola 600 the same day but with the rescheduling of times, this so-called ‘Double Duty’ came to an end.
Here’s what NASCAR Cup Series drivers have to say about their plans for the historic Indy 500
The only active racer to pull this off was Kurt Busch who did it back in 2014, and his older brother Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing definitely has plans to race in the Indy 500 but unfortunately, he and his full-time Cup Series team were not on the same page.
“It’s certainly on my radar, the year that I had it sold and committed and sponsorship was there and everything like that, I got told no. I haven’t necessarily tried to sell sponsorship since,” said Kyle Busch.
Another racer supposedly aiming for the Indy 500 would be Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson who said that his primary ambition was to get into the stock-car racing and added that if the possibilities presented themselves, he would’ve done it but concluded by saying that he’s glad he got into NASCAR and hopes to race in the Indy 500 if there’s a window.
“My goal and dream at the time were always to make it to NASCAR, obviously if IndyCar — or whatever the lower series are — opportunities came first, I probably would have entertained it, but thankfully it all worked out, and I’m a full-time NASCAR guy and can maybe someday do some other stuff in IndyCar if I got the opportunity,” said Kyle Larson.
Michael McDowell from Front Row Motorsports who competed in the IndyCar starting stages said that he is really delighted to switch tracks into the stock car racing as he never saw himself fit into the IndyCar races and added that he would’ve had to switch his career as a whole if not for NASCAR but he still feels like competing in the open-car race sometimes.
“My journey was headed that way. As time has gone on, I’ve been so thankful that I made the move to NASCAR that I did because for me, there wasn’t a lot opportunity at the time. So, if I had waited two or three more years, I don’t think I’d ever have a long-lasting career. So, I’m thankful I did what I did, but when I watch it, I definitely want to do it,” said Michael McDowell.
Here are a few more NASCAR Cup Series contenders sharing their personal opinions on their chances at the IndyCar Series
23X1 Racing‘s Bubba Wallace, who is the only active African-American Cup Series contender has a completely different opinion than those aforementioned as he says that he never had the goal of contending in the Indy 500 and that he only wanted to race and didn’t mind what format it was, but the IndyCar Series was certainly not on his mind and meant no disrespect to those who do and admire it.
“I didn’t know what the path was — we just raced to race, but I never really ever had any desire to go the IndyCar route or run the Indy 500. I respect the hell out of those guys. Those guys are nuts,” said Bubba Wallace.
The infamous Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the only former NASCAR Cup Series driver who repents of not opting to race the Indy 500 at least once and added that even if he wants to, he can’t do it now as he feels his time behind the wheel is done and of only, he had the chance to compete and if he said yes, the outcomes of that are something he’ll always keep pondering about.
“Of course, without a doubt, there are regrets that I didn’t maybe try to figure out a way to be able to experience that once in my life. That ship has sailed, I’m 47. I’ll always wonder, I guess, what might have been, what I could have had the opportunity to do,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr.
With the ‘Double Deal’ no more, will NASCAR drivers intending to make their IndyCar debut end up doing it down the line?