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10 Drivers We Want to See Run the Indy 500-Coke 600 "Double"

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Ten drivers that should attempt to run the Indianapolis 500-Coca-Cola 600 "Double."

10. Danica Patrick

Kind of a no-brainer here. Since nearly winning the Indianapolis 500 in her first go in 2005, Patrick was a contender in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing (save for 2010), until she matriculated to fendered racing in 2012. Yeah, the Cup Series has been a tough road to hoe, and her dipping back into a different discipline would do her Cup effort no favors, but the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte loves first-time winners and can often turn into a fuel mileage affair. Hard to find anybody else that would generate as much hype an interest at racing “The Double” as Danica.

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9. James Hinchcliffe

They Mayor of Hinchtown, straight outta Oakville, said he’d be open to running a stock car someday … so what are we waiting for? Highly personable and engaging, he’d fit right in NASCAR and quickly become a fan favorite. Think of him as the Canadian Clint Bowyer. He finished sixth in the 500 in 2012 and led seven laps in last year’s event. He’d get annihilated in the 600, but dammit, what NASCAR needs is more fiber-optic sponsors!

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8. Sam Hornish Jr.

Hornish won the Indy 500 in 2006, narrowly beating Marco Andretti to the line in the second-closest finish in the history of the 500 (.0635 seconds). He narrowly missed winning the 2013 Nationwide Series championship and is now splitting time with Kyle Busch in a Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide car. His last foray in the Cup Series was mid-2012, when he was recalled to sub for Penske Racing in the No. 22 and finished 15th at Charlotte, which is about his average showing in three 600 starts.

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7. Tony Kanaan

OK, so the open wheel guys haven’t fared too well in stockers the past few years, but of the current crop of true 500 contenders, Kanaan is the one guy I could see fairing well in NASCAR. He won the Indy 500 last year in one of the most popular wins for a driver who is respected by just about everyone in the IndyCar Series. Sure, this one is far-fetched but we can dream, right?

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6. AJ Allmendinger

The ‘Dinger about did it in Indy last year … until the stupid seatbelts came undone. It would’ve been a heck of a comeback story, following his excommunication from NASCAR after a failed drug test in mid-2012. Penske Racing gave him his shot at redemption, and in his first race in an IndyCar in over five years, he was in a position to win the thing. His new ride with fenders for 2014 is the No. 47 that Bobby Labonte struggled with mightily last year. Thus far, Allmendinger has been struggling with it as well.

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5. Kyle Busch

Pretty sure he could win both. Legitimately. Not that brother Kurt can’t (he can’t) but having raced against Kyle in a go-kart (and knowing my renown open wheel skills), I feel he would be hard to beat.

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4. Kimi Raikkonen

Purely selfish reasons here, but why not go for the triple? OK, there are some logistical issues. First, he races in the Monaco Grand Prix that morning, and unless someone can get an SR-71 out of mothballs … That said, we’ve all seen those summer cloudbursts in Indiana come out of nowhere, so if the start were delayed … Plus, an IndyCar kind of looks like a Formula One car — albeit less this year with the new honkers on the Euro cars. The “Ice Man” actually did make a NASCAR start in 2011 in Truck and Nationwide series races in Charlotte. And if you thought Kurt Busch’s audio was interesting, his was even better:

— “I don’t understand how this car is so hot … my ass is even burning in here!”
— "Why are you shouting on the f***ing radio?"
— "The car is shit because I cannot get it turned! It is so frustrating! I cannot get the f***ing car turned!”

Not sure why he only stuck around for a weekend. I kinda think he would’ve fit in OK over here.

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3. Tony Stewart

Time's running out, but Smoke might as well pull the double with teammate Kurt Busch now that his bad wheel is healing up. If he’s worried about getting hurt, I totally understand. Then again, he said he’d be racing some Sprint Car races again this year — those same damned demonic garden tractors with Cup engines that laid him up in the first place. He has wins at the 2005 and ’07 Brickyard 400, and came close to Indy 500 wins in 1997 (fifth), and a the final year he did the double in 2001 (sixth in Indy, third in Charlotte). He pulled back after it was believed his Indy 500 participation was encroaching on his Cup commitments, then subsequently won titles in 2002, ’05 and ’11. Hmmm, on second thought …

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2. Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon was on the fast track for IndyCar stardom but when funding was slow in coming for a seat, he set his sights southward and made the decision that changed his career — and the sport of NASCAR — forever. Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994 and followed it up with wins in 1998, ’01 and ’04. It’s been 10 years since he last visited Victory Lane at Indy, so why not cap off a Hall of Fame career with his mug on the Borg-Warner Trophy?

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1. Jimmie Johnson

Even if “Six Pack” makes it seven, there’s the notion they won’t be held in the same regard as those of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Johnson probably won’t get to seven Daytona 500s either, so why not go a different direction — that of Mario and Super Tex. Only Andretti and Foyt have both Daytona 500 and Indy 500 wins, even though Cale Yarborough had a look at it a couple of times. Johnson has the demeanor of an open-wheel driver, as well as the Mears connection — although word is he promised the better half that once the kids came along, the Indy dream would be put to bed for good. Still, if anyone could win ‘em both, you just know it’d be Johnson. Speaking of, we wonder what Chad Knaus could do with 10-times the downforce.

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