Charlotte Rear View Mirror

Kasey Kahne and Rick Hendrick

Kasey Kahne's win on Sunday was his first as a member of Hendrick Motorsports. (Photo: Getty Images)

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A day that featured 1,100 miles of racing didn't disappoint.

From the drop of the green flag at Indianapolis to the checkered flag waving Sunday night in Charlotte, the Memorial Day weekend tradition featuring two of the biggest races of the season on the same day lived up to the hype.

Dario Franchitti’s thrilling and dramatic third career Indianapolis 500 win set the tone for the day. The Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver’s stirring run to the checkered flag, and tribute to fallen friend Dan Wheldon, made the 96th running of the 500 one of the most memorable in years.

Then Kasey Kahne brought team owner Rick Hendrick his 201st career Sprint Cup win with his third Coca-Cola 600 victory in Charlotte. Kahne notched the first win of his Hendrick tenure in the fastest 600 in history.

It capped off any race fan's Nirvana, Christmas in May or any other analogy you'd like to use. It's one thing to have a day of racing to sit back and enjoy - it's quite another to watch two of the most prestigious events of the season go green back-to-back. And I guess you could really include the morning’s Grand Prix of Monaco in as a triple play for those true die-hard fans.

All the recent talk of bonuses for drivers to win both Indy and Charlotte sparks much discussion about the feasibility of pulling off such an achievement. I'll restate my belief that any driver pulling off that accomplishment would go down in the annals of sports history as maybe the biggest achievement ever, akin to a golfer winning the British Open and then flying back to take The Masters later that day.

But it doesn't take the spectacle of watching someone try to win both events to hammer home how special the day really is. For me, it's enough to just have these two special events scheduled on the same day.

And in 364 days we get to do it all over again.

  • Kahne’s win continued the Hendrick hot streak that started with Jimmie Johnson’s Southern 500 win, and victory number 200 for the organization, and continued with his All-Star Race triumph last week. Rick Hendrick took some heat when he predicted before the season all four of his drivers would be in the Chase. Kahne looks to be on his way now, although Jeff Gordon, despite a top 10 finish Sunday, still needs to pick things up.
  • The record pace Sunday night again featured virtually caution-free racing with the yellow flying only for debris and a few minor spins. That trend has continued since virtually the start of the season at every size and shape track on the circuit and the lack of restarts to bunch up the field is vexing thousands of fans longing for more side-by-side racing.
  • Heartbreak was the theme of the night for a trio of drivers including A.J. Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose and Mark Martin. Allmendinger had a very fast car but was sidelined by a broken hub early in the run. Ambrose started the night from the front row next to teammate and pole sitter Aric Almirola, but he too fell victim to a broken hub issue. And the solid start to the year for Michael Waltrip Racing’s Mark Martin went sour with a blown engine only a handful of laps away from the finish.
  • Danica Patrick’s third career Sprint Cup Series start was nothing to write home about with a 30th-place finish and five laps off the pace. But on the bright side, as she did at Darlington, Patrick finished the race. However she’ll need to step things up in her next few Cup outings to stop the howls of those who are unimpressed with Patrick’s early NASCAR performances.

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