All Jeff Gordon did was drive a few laps around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a Corvette Z06, announcing he would drive the pace car to start the Indianapolis 500, and imaginations are already running wild.
Speculation has started as to whether Gordon, a former native of Pittsboro, Ind., and four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, could make a run in the Indianapolis 500 in the future.
But Norris McDonald, veteran Canadian writer and “Wheels” section editor for the Toronto Star, isn’t just speculating. More than a year before the 100th running of the Indy 500, McDonald is calling his shot.
McDonald believes leading the 33-car field around the 2.5-mile track will plant a seed in the mind of Gordon, who will retire from NASCAR after this season.
“It’s going to give him a taste of what the Indy 500 is all about,” writes McDonald. “All he’ll have to do is look in his rear-view mirror and see 33 Indy cars behind him, all snorting to be turned loose. He’ll get the fever. You watch. Gordon has said he will retire from the Sprint Cup circuit after this season but he never said he was retiring from motor racing.”
Then McDonald takes his keyboard and points it toward
center field Turn One.
“I predict he will race in the 2016 Indianapolis 500, which will be the 100th renewal of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” wrote McDonald. “In fact, he could already have a deal with Roger Penske. Remember where you heard this. It’ll happen.”
McDonald doesn’t predict Gordon will attempt to complete the “double” of racing in both the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 in the same day.
At the pace car announcement, Gordon, who hasn’t attended the 500 since 1983, shared why he has never tried the feat in his 24-year NASCAR career.
“I’m the type of person where if I’m going to do it, I want to do it in a way where I feel like I can spend the proper amount of time behind the wheel and really get used to the car and appreciate and respect the competitors that race these cars every weekend and throughout the season,” Gordon said. “Do I wish I had the opportunity to race in the Indy 500? I think it’s any race car driver’s dream to race in this race.”’
Four drivers have ever successfully attempted the “double” of competing in the Indy 500 and Coke 600 in the same day, with Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kurt Busch the latest to try in 2014.