The history of double-duty

With the announcement that Kurt Busch will attempt to win both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, the motor racing world is excited. However, Busch isn’t the first driver to attempt the feat. We look back on the previous double-duty attempts and evaluate their success.

The first same day double-duty was made possible in 1994, when the start time of the 600 mile Charlotte race was pushed back thanks to the introduction of floodlights at the circuit in 1992. Therefore this list only includes drivers who have attempted double-duty on the same day post-1994.

1. Tony Stewart

The only driver on this list to win championships in both IndyCar and NASCAR Sprint Cup, Stewart has attempted double-duty twice in his career.

In 1999 in his debut season in the Sprint Cup with Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart attempted the Indy 500 with Tri-Star Motorsports, and despite being off the pace, he still managed a top ten in 9th. He fared better at Charlotte, where he clinched fourth. Stewart’s best double-duty attempt came in 2001. Still driving for Joe Gibbs in NASCAR, he signed with Chip Ganassi for the 500, who had won the 500 the previous year with Juan Pablo Montoya. He led 13 laps on the day taking an impressive sixth place finish. At Charlotte he spun on lap two, but worked his way back into contention and just missed out on victory in third. Undoubtedly the most successful double-duty so far, the man from Indiana became the first driver to finish all 1100 laps of both races.

2. John Andretti

Andretti was the first man to attempt double duty in its current format in 1994 twenty years ago this year. He attempted the 500 with AJ Foyt enterprises, but could only manage 10th place, four laps down on winner Al Unser Jr. Andretti contested the Coca-Cola 600 for car owner Billy Hagan, but engine failure led to a lowly 36th place finish.

3. Robby Gordon

Robby Gordon has the most double-duty attempts on this list at 5. In 1997, the Indy 500 was rained off and re-run on Tuesday. His second attempt in 2000 was also thwarted by rain, as the race was delayed by three hours. However, after finishing sixth in the 500 for Team Menard, he flew to Charlotte and took over the car he was supposed to have started the 600 in. Due to his late arrival, P.J. Jones had started the car, but Gordon took over during a pit stop. He went on to finish 35th. Gordon’s best attempt came in 2002, the first attempt at double-duty for Gordon which wasn’t affected by rain. He managed eighth at Indy, again for Team Menard, and finished only one lap down in 16th place for Richard Childress. In 2003 Gordon could only manage 26th at Indy, but almost reflected the result he received the previous year in the Coca-Cola 600 finishing 17th, again for Richard Childress. Gordon’s 2004 attempt began in chaos at the 500, as rain early on led to a red flag, and Gordon left for Charlotte. The 500 then restarted, and Jaques Lazier had to take over the wheel. Gordon arrived in time for the 600 but could only manage 20th

From 2005, the Indy 500 was ran later thus eliminating the chance of a double duty up until 2011, when the race returned to its original start time. Despite rumours of a huge prize fund for winning both races, no driver has attempted double-duty since Gordon in 2004…Until now. Kurt Busch has it all to do, as not even his current team owner sitting at the top of this list succeeded in winning the two races.

(Credit to http://www.onpitrow.com for images)

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