Fresh off his first NASCAR championship, Ryan Blaney was quickly looking at what he could accomplish next, and with a team owner who has a presence in other forms of motorsports, the request was simple.
“Blaney said to me at some point over the last several weeks that he would like to go to Indy,” Roger Penske said in Nashville, where Blaney was celebrated during Champion’s Week. “I was like, ‘Whoa, slow down a little bit.’ We’re good to have everybody come to Indy, but if we can have the double and really play up Memorial Day at both Charlotte and Indianapolis, it’ll be great.”
Penske owns Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series. His team also won this year’s Indy 500 with Josef Newgarden.
Kyle Larson will run the double next year. The Hendrick Motorsports driver is one of the most versatile drivers in all of motorsports, and his Cup Series team worked out a deal with McLaren for Larson to run in the biggest race in IndyCar.
Larson won’t be the first NASCAR driver to attempt the double, and doing so isn’t a new idea for Blaney, who has been in the Team Penske pipeline since 2008 and joined the Cup Series fold in 2018.
“Honestly, it’s something that’s bounced around my mind for a couple of years,” Blaney said. “It’s something I feel like…if you could do the double, that’s cool. Larson is doing it next year. That’s going to be great.
“I’ve poked around that idea with [Penske] for a couple of years now, and I might have to bring it back up, so we’ll see where that goes.”
Blaney doesn’t have an open-wheel background, nor was ever on the path to IndyCar. It’s the challenge of completing both races — 1,100 miles — that attracts him to wanting to trying something new and prestigious.
“I just feel like there’s not many people that can do the double,” Blaney said. “It’s a pretty short list and it would be neat to just do it. I have respect for all forms of motorsports, so I think you want to go experience something like that. I think at my age it would be kind of perfect to do it, but I just think the nostalgia of it and to be able to say you ran, hopefully, 1,100 miles in one day on the racetrack is a cool feat.
“It’s cool for Kyle [Larson] being able to do it and maybe one day I’ll get the privilege too.”