CHARLOTTE -- On Sunday, for the ninth time, a driver will attempt to race both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
Kurt Busch is the latest to sign up for this most daring of double-duty, driving at Indy for Andretti Autosport. Green flag is at noon (ET) for open-wheel's biggest race. Later Sunday afternoon he'll jet down to Charlotte to jump into his No. 41 Haas Automation Made in America Chevrolet for the 6 p.m. (ET) start of NASCAR's longest race.
The eight previous double-dips have been divided up by only three drivers - John Andretti (1994), Robby Gordon (1997, 2000, '02, '03, '04) and Tony Stewart ('99 and '01). Stewart has the best result - by far - in the books, having finished sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte in 2001, in the process becoming the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles between the two races.
Busch qualified 10th for the Indianapolis 500, but crashed in a Monday practice session and will be forced to a back-up car.
VERY SHORT LIST
Matt Kenseth stands alone on one very short list in Coca-Cola 600 lore. It's the one titled "Rookie Winners In The Coca-Cola 600."
Only Kenseth's name exists on that list, after his surprise first win in 2000. Many rookies have tried to conquer NASCAR's longest race before and since, and all have come up short.
Could this be the year that changes? Though unlikely, there's a chance.
Austin Dillon, who returns the No. 3 to the Coca-Cola 600 this weekend, could do it. This'll be his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Charlotte, but he has enjoyed some success in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series there. Last October, he scored a runner-up finish in the Nationwide Series race.
The No. 3, by the way, has won five times in the 600-mile race at Charlotte.
A DIRTY DOZEN
Unless Jimmie Johnson breaks a long-standing tie atop the Charlotte wins this Sunday - and nabs the potential Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot that goes with it - this first third of Johnson's season will be a dirty dozen, indeed.
Johnson's season-opening stretch of 0-for-11 isn't unprecedented. But it's close. Only once in his prolific career has Johnson needed 12 races to capture his first victory - way back in 2003, his sophomore season. Otherwise, he wins early - and often.
This seems like as good a site as any for the breakthrough win. Over the past 25 years, the Coca-Cola 600 has been a momentum-starting race. In fact, for 13 of the last 25 Coca-Cola 600 winners, it was their first win of the season. That might be a comforting stat for Johnson, who shares the all-time wins lead at Charlotte with NASCAR Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison.
Johnson, who will open this week's NASCAR festivities by voting for the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class on Wednesday, has done just about everything BUT win this season. Seventh in points, Johnson has three top fives and six top 10s and ranks second in laps led with 527. Only Kevin Harvick has led more laps this season (672).