Indy 500: Kyle Larson makes unwanted history, first time since 1995

Kyle Larson's official Memorial Day Double attempt featured just one race, something that only one driver could say prior to Sunday.
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

Kurt Busch remains the most recent race car driver to officially attempt the Memorial Day Double, competing in both IndyCar's Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, back in 2014.

Kyle Larson entered Memorial Day Weekend planning to become the fifth driver to ever attempt it. John Andretti was the first to do so in 1994, and Robby Gordon tried it five times in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2004. Tony Stewart did it twice, first in 1999 and then in 2001. His 2001 attempt remains the only attempt to go all 1,100 miles.

There were rumors that Larson, being a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver, was committed to running the Coca-Cola 600 at all costs.

But he proved he "knows what Indy means" when he opted to stay at the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Speedway, Indiana oval, despite a four-hour rain delay ensuring that he would not reach the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Concord, North Carolina oval in time.

Larson had a solid chance at a top five finish in the Indy 500 before a late speeding penalty. He finished in 18th place after leading four laps, and he took off for Charlotte.

Kyle Larson's Coca-Cola 600 plans go awry

Literally as the 2021 race winner arrived at the track, at which point 249 of the 400 scheduled laps had been run, the skies opened up and the rains began to fall.

NASCAR ultimately decided to call the race, with Joe Gibbs Racing's Christopher Bell declared the winner since the race was past the halfway mark and thus official. Justin Allgaier, who drove Larson's No. 5 Chevrolet, finished in 13th place.

As a result, Larson has not joined the exclusive group of four racers to attempt the Memorial Day Double. Instead, he has joined an even more exclusive group, one which now features two drivers whose Memorial Day Double attempts ultimately ended with starts in just one race.

Back in 1995, Davy Jones tried to do what Andretti did the year before. However, he failed to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600 and therefore only competed in the Indy 500.

In Larson's case, he qualified for the Coca-Cola 600; he simply did not start it. And despite showing up late, ready to run its final 151 laps, he did not compete in it at all.

It is worth noting that, even if he had competed in it, Allgaier still would have been credited with his result. Yes, Allgaier technically could have earned his first career Cup Series win with Larson behind the wheel for the final 200-plus miles.

Larson also gave up his eligibility to score points and playoff points by not beginning the race behind the wheel of the No. 5 Chevrolet. In fact, he lost the points lead because of it, a lead he had held since early April.

Fortunately for Larson, the current plan is for him to attempt the Indy 500 again in 2025, giving him another shot at adding his name to that exclusive list. Hopefully the weather cooperates.

Next. NASCAR manufacturer's struggles being 'sensationalized'?. NASCAR manufacturer's struggles being 'sensationalized'?. dark

Next year's Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 are scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 25, 2025.