The greatest day of racing did not disappoint

The Greatest Day of Racing didn’t disappoint. Not in the least.

It began with controversy in the Monaco Grand Prix, where Mercedes inexplicably called Lewis Hamilton into the pits with 13 laps to go, allowing teammate Nico Rosberg to win.

From there, Juan Pablo Montoya scored an enormously popular victory in the Indianapolis 500 and Carl Edwards became the ninth different winner in 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races on a night filled with plots and subplots.

My marathon Sunday began at 7:15 a.m., when I left the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis to be part of a convoy led by police motorcycles and a 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 driven by Mark Reuss, the president of General Motors North America, and co-piloted by Jim Campbell, GM’s vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. Both are passionate car guys and race fans. And the Z06, which served as the Indy 500 pace car, is a world-class high-performance car.

From there, we met up at the Brickyard with Jeff Gordon, his wife Ingrid and children Ella and Leo. Rick Mears, Gordon’s childhood hero, came by to see the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion before the race and share some memories.

After the driver’s meeting, Gordon talked with some of the pilots and told Montoya it looked like he had a fast car and a good chance to win. Turns out Gordon was right. There was a huge crowd in the stands and the frontstretch was jammed before the race – look, there’s Johnny Rutherford, there’s Mario Andretti. Hey, A.J. Foyt and Linda Vaughn are hanging out together.

Jeff Gordon's day: Up-to-the-minute account of 'double' duty

Right before the race, my FOX Sports colleague Jamie Little and I got to go for a ride around the track in one of the five Chevrolet Camaro convertible parade cars that ran ahead of Gordon, who was driving the pace car.

After watching a couple of laps, Jeff, his family, public relations rep Jon Edwards, Jamie and I boarded a private plane and flew back to Concord, N.C. It was an amazing day and we owe thanks to the Gordons, Edwards and the folks at Chevrolet for making it happen.

When the plane taxied up to the hanger at the small little Concord Regional Airport, there were half a dozen motorcycles and a police car. Oh, and something else: Four F-18 Hornet fighter planes on the ground. It was a surreal experience, to say the least. And so was the high-speed police escort to the track, which is something I’ll certainly remember for a long time.

As it turns out, the Coca-Cola 600 was a near-perfect finishing touch to a pretty much perfect day of racing. There were a whole host of great — or at least interesting — storylines that came out of the 600:

Enough in the tank: Carl Edwards, team gamble on fuel to win Coca-Cola 600

● Carl Edwards broke a 31-race winless streak to become the ninth different winner in 12 races this year.

● Kyle Busch was sensational in his first points race back since his Daytona crash.

● For the first time in at least a year, Greg Biffle was fast, finishing second.

● Dale Earnhardt Jr. kept his streak alive of finishing in the top five at every 1.5-mile track this season.

● Martin Truex Jr. led the most laps but was unable to seal the deal.

● Inexplicably, Jimmie Johnson was disappointing for the second week in a row at a track he usually owns.

And that’s just scratching the surface in what is rapidly shaping up to be an interesting season. Stuff’s about to get real as the summer races head toward the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Last, but certainly not least, on this Memorial Day, we say thanks to the countless men and women who have served and sacrificed to keep our country free, and their families who stood by them. Thank you all for your courage, your patriotism and your sacrifices.