Indy 500: Ryan Blaney has not changed his mind

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

NASCAR’s Ryan Blaney is still interested in running the Indy 500, and he is in a perfect position to do the Memorial Day Double.

While he isn’t running the Memorial Day Double, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is set to make his Indy 500 debut this Sunday afternoon Indianapolis Motor Speedway after qualifying in 12th place last Sunday (full starting lineup here).

Johnson’s move to IndyCar, which came after his retirement from Cup Series competition in 2020, first saw him join Chip Ganassi Racing for only the road and street course races in 2021. But for 2022, he took the next step and became a full-time driver, adding the oval events. He finished in sixth place in his oval debut at Texas Motor Speedway in March.

The move has led to more discussions about NASCAR drivers potentially crossing over and competing in IndyCar, and one driver who has long said he would be interested in driving an open-wheel car at the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) oval in Speedway, Indiana is Ryan Blaney.

Blaney’s interest level in terms of running the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” hasn’t changed.

“I constantly — I’ve always said, I’ve always wanted to do that,” Blaney told Beyond the Flag. “I’d love to do the Double one day, run the Indy 500 and then the 600 at Charlotte. I think it would be really, really cool to do. Not many guys have done it.”

Just four drivers have ever pulled it off, most recently in 2014 when Kurt Busch joined Andretti Autosport for the Indy 500 before running the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway with Stewart-Haas Racing, where he competed full-time in the Cup Series at the time.

Blaney competes full-time in the Cup Series for Team Penske behind the wheel of the #12 Ford. In addition to fielding a competitive IndyCar team, one which owns 18 Indy 500 victories, team owner Roger Penske also owns the NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

So there really couldn’t possibly be a better situation for Blaney in terms of potentially pursuing a Memorial Day Double attempt at some point.

“It’d be great to be able to make that happen one day with a great team that can do it, with Penske,” Blaney continued. “We’re big supporters of those guys over there. The IndyCar and NASCAR teams are in the same building here in North Carolina. We’re really supportive of that group, and obviously the month of May is huge for those guys.

“I watch as much of it as I can before we gotta go to driver intros for the 600, but wish those guys the best of luck. But yeah, gosh, I’d love to run the 500 and then the 600, do the Double. You never know, maybe down the road we can make that happen. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Of the four drivers to run the Memorial Day Double, only Tony Stewart completed all 1,100 miles, doing so in 2001 with a sixth place finish in the Indy 500 and a third place finish in the Coca-Cola 600. No driver has won a race during a Memorial Day Double attempt.

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The 106th running of the Indy 500 is set to be broadcast live on NBC from Indianapolis Motor Speedway beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET this Sunday, May 29, and the Coca-Cola 600 is set to be broadcast live on Fox from Charlotte Motor Speedway beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET later in the evening. Start a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss any of the 1,100 miles of action!