With the Indianapolis 500 in the afternoon and the Coca-Cola 600 in the evening in Concord, North Carolina, the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend typically is one of the biggest — if not the biggest — day of racing of the year.
Twice, in 1999 and 2001, Tony Stewart has attempted the double. In 2001, he completed both races, finishing sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Although he won’t be doing double-duty this weekend, the Columbus native still is the only driver to complete both races and record top-10 finishes in both races on the same day.
“We’re still the only guy who’s completed all 1,100 miles of the double-duty, which is something I’m really proud of,” Stewart said in a news release. “It makes for a very, very long day. When you’re done with the 600, after running Indy and the flight and helicopter rides and police escorts and all that during the day, you’re very, very content to lay your head on a pillow. And even when you do that, it still feels like it’s not stopped moving yet.”
In 31 career Sprint Cup starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Stewart has a victory, a pole, six top-five finishes and 13 top-10s and has led 701 laps. His lone win came in a 500-mile race in 2003, and the third-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600 is his best finish in that race.
“Any time you win a race at Charlotte, it’s big,” Stewart said. “It’s a speedway with a lot of history and, obviously, the Coke 600 is a huge event. I’m a big fan of shorter races nowadays, but the 600 is truly a special event, with it being on Memorial Day weekend and the history of the Coke 600, back to when it was known as the World 600. There’s just a lot of tradition that surrounds the month of May in Charlotte. So, this is a big race. It’s an important race to win.”
Stewart and some of his fellow NASCAR drivers competed in last week’s All-Star Sprint race at Charlotte.
“We go from the shortest race of the year to the longest race of the year,” Stewart said. “The main difference, besides the distance, is that the Coke 600 starts in the daytime and ends at night, whereas the All-Star Race starts and finishes at night. We go from a sprint race to an endurance race.”