Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

The other ‘Double': Would an IndyCar driver ever race the Coca-Cola 600 as a one-off after the Indy 500?

INDIANAPOLIS – Kyle Larson will be the fifth NASCAR driver to attempt racing the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day, which naturally begs the question:

Would an IndyCar star ever try to do “The Double” in the other direction?

The answer seems self-evident.

The Indianapolis 500 arguably is the biggest race in the world, and the crown jewel of any NTT IndyCar Series driver’s career.

It’s been nearly 18 months of mapping out the details of racing the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

While a NASCAR driver has championship obligations to be at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coke 600 within a few hours of the checkered flag falling at the Brickyard, an IndyCar driver would be hard-pressed to drop the bottle of milk and winner’s wreath to rush to Charlotte for a one-off Cup race.

But that there doesn’t mean IndyCar drivers aren’t interested in the prospect.

“We are,” 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan told NBC Sports. “They just don’t invite us! That’s pretty much it. I’ve said it many years. I would have done it, but there is no interest. They don’t want us there!”

Here are the start times, full schedule, TV and streaming information for watching the 108th Indy 500 on May 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Though the Arrow McLaren sporting director believes a superspeedway race such as Daytona or Talladega might be more suited for a crossover, he would have raced the Coke 600 “in a heartbeat.

“I would love to, but it’s too late now,” said Kanaan, who retired after his 21st and final start in last year’s Indy 500.

But it’s not too late for the rest of the IndyCar field to become the first driver to pull if off. There has been one attempt, but Davy Jones failed to qualify for the Coke 600 in 1995 (despite making seven Cup starts that season).

Here’s what several IndyCar stars told NBC Sports about the prospect of running “The Double” in reverse as an IndyCar driver heading to Charlotte:

Graham Rahal

“With the way the (NASCAR) charters are and stuff, I think it’s quite hard to even get the opportunity there anymore, to be honest. So to get the opportunity to go jump in a one-off like that isn’t as standardized as it maybe used to be, so that kind of is that puts a little bit of a damper on it. But obviously here for the 500, it’s always been a traditional thing that all the big teams always run extra cars and open some opportunities for guys like Kurt (Busch) and Kyle (Larson) this year.

“I’ve never looked at ‘The Double,’ honestly. For an IndyCar driver, racing at Indy, if you’re a racer, you’re going to know what to do in the moment. But racing a stock car with side drafting, all that stuff that they do, it’s very different than what we do. And so the guys that do that, obviously, have it figured out because of their experience level. So even it’s rare to see a rookie jump in there and do well, even in a great car. And there are guys like Denny (Hamlin) and people who are at certain places the masters of it and clearly better than the rest. So I think it’d be a challenge to just go over there. Would it be a challenge to go fast at Charlotte? Probably not, to be honest. But the racecraft side of it is a whole different deal.

“You really don’t want to go and not be in a good car, right? So what teams are you going to go to? And do those teams have the opportunity? I think the answer to that is no. (Charter limit it here?) No, because I mean, I would imagine all the big teams will still try to qualify extra cars here. So it still will open some doors. I think, I mean, and I don’t think, you know, I think that should be available for those teams to do so.

Scott McLaughlin

“Yes! Yes! Yes, I would do it. I would love to do ‘The Double’ the other way. I would want to be the IndyCar driver to do a ‘Double’ the other way for sure. It’s something that I’ve always been very keen on, and I haven’t even spoken to Roger (Penske) about this for real, but I feel like if I was to do something like that, you’d need (to attempt) a race somewhere similar to Charlotte beforehand. Like even if it was a year before or whatever just to figure it out. I’m completely not disregarding NASCAR drivers, how good they are, how good they are with their cars. So if I was to do it, I’d love to do it properly, and I’m sure other people want to do that as well.

“But yeah, I would love to be one of the first to go the other way. Just to do it. Yeah, just to do it. I’m always one to challenge myself. It was the same thing when I came to IndyCar. Completely different. And yeah, everyone thinks that, ‘Oh, maybe he’ll jump into a road course,’ but I want to do an oval. I’d love to try something else. But at the same time, I’ve got to make sure I’m very fully cemented here, because this is absolutely Plan A.”

Josef Newgarden

Yeah, how could you not (be interested in a NASCAR race)? I would love it. I mean, I think it’s really difficult to do nowadays. It’s why you don’t see it a lot on the Cup side, either. There’s other Cup guys that I know want to come around this race, and it’s just difficult to put the program together. Look, there’s probably half the grid would love to go the other way, including myself. So I hope at some point we can get more of those efforts. It would be nice to see an IndyCar guy represent us on the NASCAR side. And look, if it could be me, I would be the first person to raise my hand.”

Colton Herta

“(The Coca-Cola 600) is not the first race I think I would want to do in a Cup car. I mean it’s tough because to do it the way that they do it (at Indy) is a lot easier because you get two weeks of practice. So it would have to be some sort of situation where you can get a few days of testing at Charlotte in a Cup car. That’s why I think Daytona would be easier because just to get up to speed, you’re flat (on the accelerator), and it’s fairly easy flat. Then after that, the racecraft and stuff is a whole different level and a whole different set of expertise that you would struggle with for sure. But then to add in having to learn to drive a car on a series that gives you no practice time basically, it’s very difficult. So yes, I would be interested, but I would need a lot more stuff to happen than for them coming over here. They get all the practice time. I would like to be prepped. I don’t want to go out there, which I know would happen if I just went out there and ran and just never ran a Cup car, I’d run around like 28th, right? And that would be good for me. And I don’t want to do that. I would want to do it competitively. I wouldn’t want to run with a slower team and whatnot.

“I think it’s cool when anybody does (‘The Double’). I think it’s impressive, man. It’s definitely a tough, tough thing to do. It’s a tough thing to handle for your brain mentally. Physically, (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) is not physical at all. It takes no effort, and it’s the easiest thing that we do. But the mental side of having to drive for three and a half hours and then go to a Coke 600, which is, what, like a four -hour race? And so that’s seven hours inside of a race car in a race situation. So it definitely takes a toll on the body. So it is cool.”

Pato O’Ward

“I think it’s cool what (Larson is) doing. So I would love to do that in the future. I want to get a win here first, then I can think of doing that. I would love to call (Hendrick). Maybe they would want to have me but maybe they don’t, so I think that would be cool. It definitely is kind of on my radar but further along. First I want to make sure my focus is fully on my job, which is here. And this is a race that I’ve always aspired to be a part of, just having the opportunity to win it would be so special.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay

“You’d have to have a good amount of testing at Charlotte. Charlotte’s a pretty unique place and how it races with those cars. I think those cars in general, coming from an IndyCar/open wheel-specific guy, when you’re heading in that direction, that’s a car that has a much higher (center of gravity), less grip overall. When they’re coming here, they’re coming to a higher-performing car. Not to say either form of racing is better than the other. It’s just a higher-performance race car. So I think that might make it a little bit easier to transition into. The capabilities of the car are so much more, whereas there it’s more of a unique driving style that you have to become accustomed to in a very short amount of time in order to maximize the potential of that car. Long story short, that would be really cool. It just would have to be with somebody that has a bit of experience in some of that stock car racing or really testing there. I’ve driven an Xfinity car there at Charlotte in the past, and it’s a unique spot, for sure.”

Scott Dixon

“Even when Larson was with our team, there was talk of that going on. And then there was conversations that I had had with Chip about it years, years ago. But not necessarily doing ‘The Double.’ It was about doing some other kind of Cup race where there was a road course, but yeah, I don’t know. It’s kind of hard. I think they maybe have a little more flexibility with what they’re able to do. I would say in our environment, it’s quite difficult to jump (to NASCAR). With (Larson), it’s obviously the same engine manufacturer, so that kind of helps. I think with Jimmie it was different, so that makes it difficult. I think it’d be fun. It’d be tough. Really tough.”

Helio Castroneves

“I’d love to, but unfortunately, (doing the Daytona 500) didn’t work it out. Still pushing it for sure. I got a message the other day from Justin Marks, so let’s see. Maybe he just wanted tickets to come to the (Indy 500). But it would be really exciting to come back again and do something like that because look it’s in my bucket list. I know it’s going to be hard, but hey, I will have to try. You just want to race.”