Track Talk: From IndyCar to NASCAR
February 23rd, 2017.
NASCAR kicks off this weekend, and their crown jewel- the Daytona 500, happens to be the first race of their season. IndyCar drivers have a history of competing in the Daytona 500. We take a look at some of the IndyCar drivers who tried their hand at competing at Daytona.
Mario Andretti and AJ Foyt: Two of the greatest rivals in IndyCar history also happen to be the only two drivers to win both the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500. Fun fact about Andretti- he won the Daytona 500 two years before winning his only Indy 500.
Tony Stewart: Former IndyCar champion, Tony Stewart, qualified 2nd for his very first Daytona 500, and he nearly won it back in 2004 when he finished 2nd. He has, however, won the NASCAR Cup Series championship three times, making him the only driver in history to win both a Cup Series and IndyCar championship.
Danica Patrick: Former IndyCar driver, Danica Patrick, won the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500. She has a best finish of 8th.
Sam Hornish Jr and Dario Franchitti: Both former Indy 500 winners took a shot at the Daytona 500. Dario Franchitti finished 33rd in his only try, while Sam Hornish Jr managed a best finish of 12th in four starts.
Juan Pablo Montoya: If it has wheels then Juan Pablo Montoya can race, and win, in it. He bagged two wins during his NASCAR Cup series career, but neither of them was at Daytona. This two-time Indy 500 winner has a best finish of 7th in the 2013 Daytona 500.
Robby Gordon: Another versatile driver, Robby Gordon was less than two laps away from winning the 1999 Indy 500 before running out of fuel. Primarily a NASCAR driver through the early 2000’s, Gordon has a best finish of 6th in the 2003 Daytona 500. He also has three NASCAR Cup series wins on his resume.
AJ Allmendinger: Like Montoya and Gordon, AJ Allmendinger is one of the few contemporary drivers to find victory in both the NASCAR Cup Series and IndyCar. While his lone NASCAR win came on the road course at Watkins Glen, he did come close to winning the Daytona 500, finishing 3rd in 2009.
Al Unser Jr: Two-time Indy 500 winner, Al Unser Jr, gave the Daytona 500 a shot back in 1994. Driving for the legendary Hendrick Motorsports, he started 40th, and moved up only four places to finish 36th.
Al Unser: Four-time Indy 500 champion, ‘Big Al’, had a standout performance in his only Daytona 500. In 1968 he started 8th and finished 6th.
Dan Gurney: Racing legend Dan Gurney has a pair of 2nd place finishes at Indy, along with a 5th place in the 1963 Daytona 500. Outside of that, he was unstoppable in a stock car at the old Riverside Raceway in California- winning five times in six years, at the track.
Honorable Mentions: Jeff Andretti didn’t find victory lane in an IndyCar, but he did manage to win the July Daytona race- the Firecracker 400. Former Indy 500 rookie of the year, Christian Fittipaldi, finished 25th in his only Daytona 500 start, while Patrick Carpentier failed to qualify at his only attempt at the race.