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Jimmie Johnson almost teamed up with Roger Penske for Indy 500-Coca-Cola 600 double

IndyStar | The Indianapolis Star
IndyStar | The Indianapolis Star
 2022-05-26
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Jimmie Johnson will make his Indy 500 debut Sunday, but back when he was at the peak of his NASCAR powers between 2006 and 2011, he briefly attempted to moonlight at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The idea was for Johnson, then a full-time NASCAR driver, to join Team Penske for a one-off run of the Indy 500 followed by a charter flight to NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte that night. Only four drivers have attempted what is known as “the double": Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon, John Andretti and Kurt Busch. Stewart is the only one to complete all 1,100 miles.

“I always thought that the guys doing the double just did something special and unique,” Johnson said Thursday at Indy 500 media day.

But Johnson’s discussions with Roger Penske got caught up in yellow tape and bureaucracy. Johnson raced in a Chevrolet in NASCAR, and at the time, Honda was the exclusive supplier of IndyCar engines.

“There were some other kind of loose conversations that happened, but they were all with different manufacturers, so I just felt like it was a non-starter,” Johnson said. “I went to Rick (Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports) with the opportunity that Roger and I were chatting about and unfortunately it couldn’t come together.”

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