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Dropping the Hammer: The Great Expectations of Kyle Larson’s Double

We had been waiting for it for a long time.

Despite having covered NASCAR since 2014, I don’t remember when exactly the drum beats started or why, but it’s always been in the background like in the movie “Jumanji.”

Kyle Larson.

The Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600.


Wouldn’t it be great if he attempted it?

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The earliest mention I could find was December 2015 — when Larson, a year before he’d earn his first NASCAR Cup Series win with Chip Ganassi Racing — made a funny on Twitter.

A year later, Larson said on the NASCAR on NBC podcast that Ganassi “always told me to worry about winning your first Cup race. … I would love to run the Indy 500 at least once.”

In March 2017, both of Larson’s team co-owners — Ganassi and Felix Sabates — expressed concerns about Larson ever attempting The Double.

Which was strange, since Ganassi fielded Tony Stewart in the 500 in 2001 and Sabates was the owner of Robby Gordon‘s Cup car in two of his attempts.

A few months later in a Twitter Q&A with fans, Larson again was asked about The Double.

His answered stayed the same for a while.

I remember attending a media day at Chip Ganassi Racing in either 2018 or 2019.

During Larson’s availability, someone once again asked Larson when he would attempt the Indianapolis 500.

He said he would when he was comfortable with the idea of going through with it.

Larson clearly had the the itch to do it someday.

But I feel like those of us on the outside really wanted him to do it more.

In the 30 years of The Double’s existence and the drivers who’ve given it a shot — John Andretti, Gordon, Stewart and Kurt Busch — no one had the hopes and dreams of completing The Double thrust on them like Larson.

This was a decade of buildup and hype.

For one day and two races.

Then it finally arrived.

Unfortunately, 10 years of expectations can’t predict the rain.

One of my favorite movies is the 2009 film “(500) Days of Summer,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.

It’s a romantic comedy featuring the relationship and then bad breakup between JGL’s Tom and Deschanel’s Summer.

At one point, Tom gets invited to a party by Summer after their breakup.

A sequence then plays out with Tom’s expectations that he and Summer will get back together. That’s displayed side-by-side with what actually happens at the party.

Expectations vs reality.

It doesn’t go as planned.

Sunday (May 26) was supposed to be a triumph.

Larson, one of the most celebrated drivers in the world, was going to have his big moment on the stage.

And he did.

It … just didn’t go how anyone wanted.

He became the first person to attempt The Double to qualify for both races but not even get an chance to drive in the Coke 600, let alone start both races.

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Larson expressed his own disappointment at length on Twitter the next day.

“I don’t know if I ever quite fully got in the correct mindset,” Larson later told NBC Sports. “I feel like I had a lot of weight on me and a lot of guilt of not being able to be in two places at one time. …

“I didn’t enjoy anything about yesterday.”

Part of me feels like the disappointment is our fault.

As much as he dreamt of doing it, we kept poking and prodding Larson. We kept reminding him how cool it would be.

Thankfully, like the end of “(500 Days) of Summer,” (spoilers) there’s always the possibility of the next season.

Not that there’s any pressure or anything.

About the author

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Daniel McFadin is a 10-year veteran of the NASCAR media corp. He wrote for NBC Sports from 2015 to October 2020. He currently works full time for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and is lead reporter and an editor for Frontstretch. He is also host of the NASCAR podcast "Dropping the Hammer with Daniel McFadin" presented by Democrat-Gazette.

You can email him at danielmcfadin@gmail.com.

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