Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!
Does Newly Crowned NASCAR Champ Ryan Blaney Have His Eyes on Indy 500?
After Kyle Larson, Team Penske’s Ford driver would be the second active Cup Series winner to attempt to tackle the legendary IndyCar race in 2024.
Like his championship-winning peer Kyle Larson — who will seemingly race anything with four wheels — Ryan Blaney, the newest member of NASCAR’s elite inner circle of Cup Series winners, wants more.
Long before he jumped behind the wheel of his No. 12 Ford Mustang Next Gen Cup car to win the title this year in Phoenix, Arizona, third-generation racer Blaney leaned into the family business of stacking up wins in quarter midget racing, securing his first victory at the tender age of 9. From Legends cars at 12, then on to late models and trucks, like his counterpart at Hendrick Motorsports, the Team Penske Ford wheelman cherishes everything about the art of competitive racing — no matter the league or vehicle.
In essence, Blaney is a motorsports purist, so it should come as no surprise that he may want to take the leap into IndyCar with the iconic Indianapolis 500.
After scoring his 19th win of the fabled race this year with Josef Newgarden, Roger Penske revealed that, like Larson, who plans to race the Indy 500 this coming year in partnership with Hendrick Motorsports and McLaren, the now beardless Blaney also has his sights set on America’s largest open-wheel racing event.
“It’s interesting,” noted Penske, according to Motorsport.com. “[Ryan] Blaney said to me at some point over the last several weeks that he would like to go to Indy. I was like, ‘Whoa, slow down a little bit.’ We’re good to have everybody come to Indy, but if we can have the Double and really play up Memorial Day at both Charlotte and Indianapolis, it’ll be great.”
Which drivers previously attempted to race both the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day?
Comprised of running the Indy 500 in the morning on Memorial Day, followed by the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte in the evening, the “Double” has previously only been attempted by four drivers — John Andretti, Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch — and only Stewart has successfully completed the 1,100-mile feat, according to the The Indianapolis Star.
“The interest from the fan base with [Larson] coming, we can see it already in our ticket sales,” Penske added. “He’ll be a great asset to [the city of] Indianapolis and the 500.”
What has Ryan Blaney said about racing the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 double?
Blaney confirmed that he’s spoken to Penske about joining Larson in being among the only two active Cup Series drivers to run the grueling pair of races. “Honestly, it’s something that’s bounced around my mind for a couple years,” Blaney said, according to Motorsport.com. “It’s something I feel like is if you could do the Double, that’s cool. Larson is doing it next year. That’s gonna be great. I’ve poked around that idea with RP [Roger Penske] for a couple years now, and I might have to bring it back up, so we’ll see where that goes."
Not only does the duo of events feature more than 1,100 miles of close-quarters racing, part of what compounds the exhaustion is the nearly 600 miles of travel from Indianapolis, Indiana to Charlotte, North Carolina. The intense nature of the challenge, while it deters most, is at the heart of what's motivating Blaney to want to add his name to the very short list of "Double Runners."
“I just feel like there’s not many people that can do the Double,” Blaney, 29, noted of the challenge, according to Motorsports. “It’s a pretty short list, and it would be neat to just do it. I have respect for all forms of motorsports, so I think you want to go experience something like that. I think at my age it would be kind of perfect to do it, but I just think the nostalgia of it and to be able to say you ran hopefully 1,100 miles in one day on the racetrack is a cool feat.”
“It’s cool for Kyle being able to do it and maybe one day I’ll get the privilege too.”