If my math is correct, just four of the 40 drivers entered in this year’s Coca-Cola 600 have also run the Indy 500, three of whom are on the same team: Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick from Stewart-Haas Racing and AJ Allmendinger of JTG Daugherty Racing.
None of those four has ever won the 500, although they’ve all had good runs and a couple came close.
I went with Stewart when he did the Indy 500/Coca-Cola 600 double in 1999 and again with Busch two years ago. Both were electrifying, dramatic events that I will remember the rest of my life.
Stewart, who was a rookie in ’99, finished ninth in the 500 and fourth in the 600, a remarkable performance.
Busch’s run was even more amazing: He finished sixth in the Indy 500, which was his first IndyCar race of any kind. Ever. What a display of skill and, yes, balls, it took to do that.
Here’s the thing: When a driver attempts the double, it raises interest for everybody in both events. It gives auto racing a bigger footprint on both sides of the fence.
Personally, I would love to see more NASCAR drivers — or Verizon IndyCar Series regulars, for that matter — attempt to do the double.
Get Humpy Wheeler to promote it, pay $5 million to any driver who wins both races on the same day and see how much buzz the run-up to Super Sunday will generate.
My guess is it would be a huge home run to have even one to three top-flight drivers try to do it in a given year.
Want to get people talking? Have Juan Pablo Montoya do the double for Penske or Kyle Larson or Scott Dixon do it for Ganassi.
Would you watch that on TV or read about it on the Internet? I sure as hell would. All we need now are a couple of team owners with the vision to see the big picture and the right sponsors, along with a couple of drivers willing to take the bull by the horns like Stewart and Busch did.