Thursday, February 23, 2012

Frenetic Friday -- Daytona 500/Indy 500 Edition

While IndyCar still has a couple weeks to go before the season opener in St. Pete, the Sprint Cup series gets underway this weekend with the Daytona 500. I thought in its honor this week's post should be dedicated to a few drivers who have driven (and had success) in both the Daytona 500 and Indy 500.

* A.J. Foyt -- Along with winning Indy four times, of course, Foyt tasted victory in the Daytona 500 in 1972, and twice won the then-Firecracker 400 (now Coke Zero 400) in 1964-65. Foyt did very well at Daytona, and one item I didn't learn until just the other day was that he finished third by less than a second to Richard Petty in 1979 in a race that featured Petty's sixth win and the famous fight between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison.

* Mario Andretti -- Interestingly enough, Andretti won his Daytona 500 two years before he won at Indy for the only time. As such, he became the first driver to win both races. He is still the only foreign-born driver to win the Daytona 500. While Foyt competed in stock cars for the better part of two decades, Mario only raced a handful of times in NASCAR competition.

* Tony Stewart -- Oh what could have been. Stewart's multi-dimensional driving talent would suggest he was more than capable of winning both 500s, but neither as yet has meant to be. Smoke raced in the 500 five times, the last in 2001, leading 122 laps and finishing in the top-10 three times. This year will mark his 14th crack at winning the Daytona 500 but he is still seeking his first win. Still he has won at both tracks, visiting victory lane in the Coke Zero 400 and Brickyard 400 (more on that in a bit). Hopefully he has gained a bit of mojo with his win in the first Gatorade Duel on Thursday.

* Juan Pablo Montoya -- JPM dominated (and decimated) the 500 field when he led 170 laps while winning in 2000, and has the lone distinction of participating in the 500, the Brickyard 400 and US Grand Prix Formula 1 race. Montoya also almost started a list of his own when he had the field covered at the Brickyard in both 2009 and 2010 only to lose the race after having to serve a penalty for speeding on pit road (2009) and pitting late for tires (2010). That would have made him the first (and probably only) driver to win at Indy in both open wheel and stock cars.

* Cale Yarborough -- Cale of course cemented his fame in stock cars, winning 83 times, including three championships and four Daytona 500s. He did make the jump to Indy in 1966, making four starts over the next seven years, with a best finish of 10th in 1972.

Just as an added note, a total of seven Cup drivers have won both the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400: Dale Jarrett was the first when he won the Brickyard in 1996, but he has been followed by Tony Stewart (as mentioned earlier), Bill Elliott, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray, who is the only driver to accomplish that feat in the same year (2010).

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