With Fernando Alonso set to compete in IndyCar’s biggest race, the Indianapolis 500, again this year, will he ever attempt the Memorial Day Double?
Two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso is set to compete in the Indianapolis 500 for the second time in his career this year, as he competed in IndyCar‘s most prestigious race two years ago when he drove the #29 Honda for McLaren, which ended the team’s 38-year absence from the race, when they formed a partnership with Andretti Autosport.
Alonso qualified for this race in fifth place before going on to lead 27 of its 179 laps, but an engine failure with 21 laps remaining relegated him to a 24th place finish.
The 37-year-old Spaniard is set to drive the #66 McLaren Racing Chevrolet in the 103rd running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” this year, and now that he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018, a victory in this race would make him just the second driver to win all three races of the Triple Crown of Motorsport.
The other race of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, the Monaco Grand Prix, is a race that Alonso won in both 2006 and 2007. Alternatively, Formula 1 championships can be used as opposed to Monaco Grand Prix victories in terms of being a part of the Triple Crown of Motorsport. Alonso won two of those as well, as he won the 2005 championship as well as the 2006 championship.
Graham Hill is the only driver who has won all three races of the Triple Crown of Motorsport. He won the Monaco Grand Prix five times (1964, 1964, 1965, 1968 and 1969) and the Formula 1 championship twice (1962 and 1968). He won the Indy 500 in 1966 before winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1972.
But in addition to his pursuit of the Triple Crown, could an additional Indy 500 attempt prompt Alonso to want to attempt the Memorial Day Double one day?
The Memorial Day Double consists of competing in the IndyCar race, the Indy 500, and the NASCAR Cup Series race, the Coca-Cola 600, on Memorial Day Sunday.
Only four drivers have competed in the 200-lap race around the the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in Speedway, Indiana and then flow down to compete in the 400-lap race at the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Charlotte Motor Speedway oval in Concord, North Carolina on the same day, and they have combined to do so a total of nine times.
Robby Gordon did so five times while Tony Stewart did so twice and John Andretti did so once. In fact, Andretti was the first to do so when he made his attempt back in 1994. Kurt Busch, who still competes in the Cup Series on a full-time basis, has done so once. He made his first attempt in 2014 and is the most recent driver to make an attempt.
Alonso has already been invited to compete in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, and he has not turned down this invitation.
Alonso, who just won the Rolex 24 at Daytona at the track for the first time in January as well, has hinted that he wants to compete in several big races before he retires from professional racing, and while he has never competed in a NASCAR race, the 200-lap race around the four-turn 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) oval in Daytona Beach, Florida certainly qualifies as “big”.
The Coca-Cola 600 does as well, especially when combined with the Indy 500. Only Stewart has completed all 600 laps and all 1,100 miles of the Memorial Day Double, so Alonso could attempt to join him on this short list much like he is attempting to join Hill and become just the second driver to win all three races of the Triple Crown of Motorsport.
Will he do so?
I would not rule it out. After all, we are talking about one of the greatest race car drivers of all-time here, and Alonso is a driver who continues to add to his legacy across many disciplines of racing. The fact that NASCAR is not yet a part of his legacy in any way, shape or form makes this situation even more intriguing.
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Will Fernando Alonso attempt the Memorial Day Double before his racing career concludes, or will he stick to the Indianapolis 500, if anything, on Memorial Day Sunday from this point forward?