The Washington Post

Kurt Busch looks to pull off ‘The Double’ at Indianapolis 500 and Coca Cola 600

On Sunday, Kurt Busch will attempt to become just the second racecar driver to complete the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte — the two longtime auto-racing stalwarts of Memorial Day weekend, with 1,100 miles of racing between them — in the same day.

Three drivers — John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon — have attempted “The Double,” but only Stewart was able to finish all 1,110 miles.

Busch will start in the 12th position in the Indianapolis 500, which begins at noon and will be televised by ABC. It will be his first race in an Indy car.

Then, after the race, Busch will hop on a private jet for the hour-long flight to Charlotte and the Coca Cola 600, which he won in 2010. That race starts at 6 p.m. and will be televised by Fox.

Here’s some pre-race reading to get you up to speed:

— The AP tagged along as Busch traveled from qualifying at Indy to NASCAR’s all-star race in Charlotte and then back to Indy for more qualifying.

— Busch is NASCAR’s bad boy on the track, but he’s trying to become a fan favorite off it.

— “Double” attempt is part of Busch’s attempt to reinvent his image.

— Busch is still learning the ins and outs of driving an Indy car. He crashed his main car spectacularly in qualifying, meaning he’ll drive the backup during the race.

Double history

1994: Andretti finishes 10th at Indy, but drops out of the race in Charlotte because of engine trouble on Lap 220.

1999: Stewart becomes the first to finish both races, taking ninth at Indy and fourth at Charlotte (though he only drove 1,090 miles on the day, finishing four laps down at Indy).

2000: Gordon tries the feat for the second time (in 1997, the Indy 500 was rained out and was run the day after the Charlotte race). Rain in Indianapolis once again kept him from completely finishing both, delaying the start of the Indianapolis 500. Gordon finished sixth, then flew to Charlotte and relieved backup driver P.J. Jones during a pit stop of the already-started Coca Cola 600, eventually finishing 35th.

2001: Stewart again finishes both races, leading the Indy 500 for 13 laps before finishing sixth on the lead lap. After starting last in the Coca Cola 600 because he missed the drivers’ meeting, he eventually finished third and became the first and only driver to complete all 1,100 miles in both races.

2002: Gordon finally steers clear of rain, finishing eighth and Indy and 16th at Charlotte. However, handling problems and leg cramps caused him to finish one lap short of the 1,100 miles.

2003: Gearbox trouble dooms Gordon at Indy, as he is forced to drop out. He again encounters rain, this time at Charlotte, where the race is washed out after lap 276.

2004: Gordon again encounters rain at Indy, where the race is delayed two hours and then halted on lap 27. Thinking  things will be called off, he heads to Charlotte (the Indy 500 eventually resumes, with Gordon’s car driven by a backup driver). Gordon finished 20th, three laps down, in the Coca Cola 600.

After spending the first 17 years of his Post career writing and editing, Matt and the printed paper had an amicable divorce in 2014. He's now blogging and editing for the Early Lead and the Post's other Web-based products.



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