Race Weekend Central

Stat Sheet: A History of Double Duty

The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend — also known as Christmas for motorsport fans. Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix, IndyCar’s Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, all in one day.

This year’s Memorial Day weekend will generate fanfare across both sides of the aisle, as Kyle Larson will become the first driver since Kurt Busch in 2014 to compete in both the Indy 500 and the Coke 600 on the same day.

Larson will be the fifth driver to compete Double Duty and the sixth driver to attempt it since the first successful Double by John Andretti in 1994. In addition to seeking wins in both races, Larson will also aim to become the second driver to complete all 1,100 miles in one day, joining Tony Stewart in 2001.

While Andretti was the first to compete in both races on the same day, he was not the first to compete in both races during the same calendar year. The inaugural 600 was run in 1960, and in the 1960s and early 70s the races weren’t always held on the same day.

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Competing in Both Events the Same Year

The 600 was held on a Sunday in late May throughout the ’60s, while the Indy 500 was always run on May 30 or May 31 (in the event that that May 30 fell on a Sunday). Prior to 1971, May 30 was the permanent date for Memorial Day. From 1971 onward, Memorial Day has been held on the last Monday of May.

With the 500 and the 600 held on different days in that time period, Cale Yarborough became the first driver to successfully compete the Double in 1967, as he finished 41st in Charlotte and 17th in Indianapolis.

All in all, four drivers completed The Double on six occasions in the late 60s and early 70s. Donnie Allison and LeeRoy Yarbrough accomplished it twice, while Allison had the best results with a win and an average finish of 3.3 between four starts. Jerry Grant was the only driver to crossover from the open wheel ranks to NASCAR, as 1968 proved to be his only start in the 600.

YearDriver600 Date600 FinishIndy 500 DateIndy 500 Finish
1967Cale YarboroughMay 2841stMay 30-3117th
1968Jerry GrantMay 2612thMay 3023rd
1969LeeRoy YarbroughMay 251stMay 3023rd
1970Donnie AllisonMay 241stMay 304th
1970LeeRoy YarbroughMay 2429thMay 3019th
1971Donnie AllisonMay 302ndMay 296th

Charlie Glotzbach also attempted both races in 1969 and 1970 but failed to qualify for the 500 on both occasions.

It wasn’t until 1974 that both races were scheduled on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend — a date where they’ve been ever since. With both races run simultaneously, it wasn’t until Charlotte Motor Speedway added lights for the 1992 All-Star Race that the double duty became a possibility again. That All-Star Race, dubbed One Hot Night, was such a hit that the Coke 600 was moved to Sunday evening for a day-to-night race in 1993, thus allowing a driver ample time to travel to both events.

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Competing in Both Events on the Same Day

Andretti — who competed full-time in open wheel Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) from 1990 to 1992, won one race — moved full-time to NASCAR in 1994. He was the catalyst for Double Duty as we know it today, as he finished 10th in the Indy 500 with AJ Foyt Enterprises before flying down to Charlotte. With car owner Billy Hagan, Andretti bowed out of the 600 after 220 laps with engine troubles, finishing 36th.

Open wheel driver Davy Jones became the next driver to attempt it in 1995. He finished 23rd at Indy but failed to qualify for the 600.

The next attempt came in 1997 and it was the first of not one, not two, but five double-duty attempts by Robby Gordon — the most of any driver. Gordon attempted the double in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004, and while he competed in all 10 races, Mother Nature interfered with three of his attempts.

The 1997 Indy 500 was rained out to Tuesday, so while Gordon started both races, they were not on the same day.

The 2000 Indy 500 was delayed several hours by rain, and Gordon completed all the laps for a sixth-place finish. But the Coca-Cola 600 had already started by the time he arrived in North Carolina, and while Gordon jumped in the car during a pit stop, PJ Jones was credited for starting the race.

Gordon’s two successful attempts came in 2002 and 2003. He finished eighth at Indy and 16th at Charlotte in 2002, completing all but one lap. He finished 22nd at Indy and 17th at Charlotte in 2003, although the latter race was rain shortened to 414 miles.

Gordon started the Indy 500 in 2004, but he left for Charlotte after a lengthy rain delay early in the race. Jaques Lazier replaced him at Indy when the race resumed, and Gordon finished 20th in the 600.

Gordon may have the most attempts of running Double Duty, but Stewart recorded the best results of any driver to attempt it. He finished ninth at Indy and fourth at Charlotte in 1999, completing all but four laps in the process. Stewart’s second attempt in 2001 has proved to be only time a driver has completed all 1,100 miles, as he finished sixth in the 500 and third in the 600.

After the attempts by Stewart and Gordon in the late ’90s and early 2000s, no one attempted double duty until Busch in 2014. He finished sixth in Indianapolis, earning Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honors in his open wheel debut. Busch encountered misfortune back in Charlotte, however, as he was relegated to a 40th-place finish in the 600 after blowing a motor past halfway.

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Here we are in 2024, and Larson will become the next chapter in the book of Double Duty.

He’s impressed throughout practice and qualifying for the 500 and he’ll line up fifth on Sunday afternoon. The racing world now waits in anticipation as one of its biggest stars, Larson, gets ready to pull the Double — a Double that, depending on its publicity and his performance, has the potential to open doors for others who strive to run both one day.

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch and is a three-year veteran of the site. His weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” He also writes commentary, contributes to podcasts, edits articles and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage.

Can find on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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Jeremy

In 2001 i recall people saying Stewart had the car to beat in the 600, but that fatigue kept him from winning that race. I don’t know if there’s any truth to that, but it sounds plausible. I can’t drive my cushy, climate controlled street car for that many hours without getting tired, can’t imagine staying focused for 1100 miles of 200mph+ racing.

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