Fri12262014

Last updateWed, 27 Dec 2017 12am

   201412metrocast

Missed it by “that” much

They call it doing the double.  A few have tried it back in the days when they dropped the green flag at Indianapolis at noon.  Donny Allison, John Andretti,  Robby Gordon,  and Tony Stewart come to mind.  Since the Indianapolis 500 track management has moved its start time to a bit after 1:00 p.m., it is just not physically possible to run the full 200 laps at Indy, helicopter to the airport, fly to Charlotte, and helicopter to the Charlotte Motor Speedway in time for the  6:00 p.m. start of the Coca-Cola 600.   

Bruton Smith, the owner of Speedway Motor Sports, which includes Charlotte Motor Speedway, recently began lobbying the management of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to move its starting time back to noon to give drivers an opportunity to again  “Do the Double”.   To stir the pot a bit Ole’ Bruton offered a $20 million dollar bonus to any driver who could drive and win both races on the same day.  Regardless of  the logistics and starting time, I don’t think Bruton has to worry about writing that check any time soon.   It’s hard to imagine drivers maintaining their stamina and concentration for the number of hours it would take.
It goes without saying that at 600 miles, the Coca-Cola 600 is NASCAR’s most grueling test.  When the race debuted in 1960 as the World 600, there were many doubters. Things got even more interesting and challenging in 1963, when the race was shifted to a twilight start.  The Coca-Cola 600 effectively became more than just an endurance test for drivers and machine.  It also challenged the crew chiefs on pit road since Charlotte is notorious for how the track changes from twilight to darkness, and from heated to cooling asphalt.  Six hundred miles is a long way, especially when you go from daylight into the night.  Now imagine you have already driven 500 miles in a totally different type of race car and flown from the Indianapolis to Charlotte before you even buckle into your race car.  Attempting the double is definitely not for the faint of heart.
However $20 million dollars will tend to get one’s attention.  You would need to have a first class ride in both races.  Penske Racing and Ganassi Racing have first class operations on both the  IndyCar and the Sprint Cup Circuits.  Penske drivers on the Cup circuit, Kurt Busch and Brad  Keselowski, have expressed interest in giving it a try.  National Speed Sport News publisher emeritus Chris Economaki recently remarked, with just a bit of sarcasm, I think,  his candidate  to “Do the Double”, was Tony Stewart, that is, if Stewart would lose enough weight so he could once again fit  into an Indy Car.
 All the talk of doing the double was about the same driver winning both Memorial Day Classics.  Last Sunday, Chip Ganassi came within .9 seconds of doing the double in a different way.  He came that close to becoming the first team owner to win both races on the same day.  Ganassi Racing driver Dario Franchitti won Sunday’s  Indianapolis 500 for the second time in a real nail-biter of a finish as the top five or six cars were all running on fumes coming down to the checkered flag.  A dramatic crash  between Ryan Hunter-Reay  and Mike Conway on the final lap brought out the caution flag and allowed Franchitti to ease off the gas and make it across the finish line under the yellow flag.   After the 500 festivities, Chip Ganassi hopped a plane and arrived at Charlotte about mid way through Sunday evening’s Coca-Cola 600.  
 Jamie McMurray, who joined Ganassi Racing during the off season, gave Kurt Busch all he could handle Sunday night at Charlotte.  It was a classic duel  between Penske Racing driver Kurt Busch and Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray.  McMurray gave it all he had with his boss atop the war wagon in his pit.  He trailed Busch across the finish line by  just .9 seconds.
Following the Coke 600, Chip Ganassi expressed his pride in McMuray’s effort saying,  “I heard we had good cars down here, that’s why I came down.  It was a great race.  Jamie did a great job.”   Ganassi gave praise to his rival in both the IndyRacing League circuit and  on the Cup circuit, Roger Penske, saying, “My old buddy Penske beat me tonight.”
It’s been quite a year so far for Ganassi Racing. They may have missed winning both of motorsports Memorial Day classics on the same day, but have become the first race team to win the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 in the same year.
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