Mario Andretti would like more Indy-NASCAR crossovers

PETE IACOBELLI Associated Press

DARLINGTON, SC — Driver great Mario Andretti is excited about NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson’s attempt to race the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in May 2024.

Andretti spoke at Darlington Raceway on Friday, to watch driver Nick Sanchez race in the Craftsman Truck Series race in a retro paint scheme of Andretti’s car that won the Daytona 500 in 1967.

Andretti said he has long advocated for drivers to test themselves in other disciplines. And who knows that better than Andretti, 83, the only driver to win a Daytona 500, an Indianapolis 500 in 1969 and the Formula 1 world championship in 1978.

He has won 111 races in multiple disciplines over five decades of racing.

Andretti was one of the main draws of NASCAR’s annual weekend, where the sport’s 75th anniversary will be celebrated. Andretti believes that talented drivers can develop all motorsports by displaying their skills on different venues.

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“I think it’s so good for the sport in general to have this crossover,” Andretti said.

No driver has attempted the Memorial Day double with 500 miles at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and then with 600 miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway since Kurt Busch in 2014.

Busch finished sixth at the Indy 500, but failed to complete the 1,100 miles with a burned out engine in the NASCAR race.

Andretti, who raced 14 NASCAR races, remembers talking to stock car big names like the Allison brothers, Donnie and Bobby and Cale Yarborough about doing more open-wheel events.

Andretti recalled how drivers known for Indy racing like four-time 500 winner AJ Foyt raced in NASCAR.

“It was awesome,” Andretti said. “It was good for all of us.”

Andretti liked that seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson tried out the NTT IndyCar series in recent years.

Andretti believes Larson has the skills to do as well in the Indianapolis 500 as he has in the NASCAR Cup Series, where he has won 21 times, including the series title in 2021.

“We all know how versatile Kyle can be,” Andretti said. “We are all one big happy family.”

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