Brent Wentz pulling Indy, Charlotte double from atop spotter stands

Flights between North Carolina and Indiana are becoming plenty frequent this week. Racing with one team‘s NASCAR Cup Series stock car in the Carolinas, then traveling northwest to race with another team‘s NTT IndyCar Series entry in the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500.

No, we are not talking about Kyle Larson this time. This one is about Brent Wentz, who will be spotting Takuma Sato‘s No. 75 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry in the Indy 500 before jetting back to Concord, North Carolina, to spot Kaz Grala‘s No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

MORE: Full Charlotte schedule

Wentz has spent decades working in NASCAR, winning the Daytona 500 with Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 RFK Racing team twice before winning Xfinity championships with both JR Motorsports and Team Penske. He then won the 2020 Indy 500 as a Turn 3 spotter for Sato in Wentz‘s inaugural Indy appearance. Wentz even podiumed this winter in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, spotting the No. 40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti’s entry to a third-place finish with drivers Jordan Taylor, Jenson Button, Colton Herta and Louis Delétraz.

Now, the Pennsylvania native has a chance to achieve even more greatness: Wentz will attempt the Indy 500-Coke 600 same-day double as a spotter for Sato in Indianapolis and Grala in Charlotte, “checking the box” of another amazing addition to his already stout resume.

“It does rank up there pretty high,” Wentz told “It’s like, I’ve watched John Andretti and Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and all these drivers do it. But I’ve never seen anybody that actually works within the two series try to do it, so I thought I might as well give her a whirl.”

Indeed, the crew-member double is perhaps rarer than the drivers’ double. Danny “Chocolate” Myers, famously the longtime gas man for Richard Childress Racing‘s “Junkyard Dogs” that pitted Dale Earnhardt‘s No. 3 Chevrolet, managed to fuel both an A.J. Foyt entry in the 1998 Indy 500 before flying back to Charlotte to gas up Earnhardt‘s car in the Coke 600 that night. Unfortunately for Myers, both entries’ races finished prematurely: The drive line in Billy Boat’s No. 11 car gave up after 111 of 200 laps at Indy, and Earnhardt crashed out of the Coca-Cola 600 with 64 laps remaining when Randy LaJoie washed high into the No. 3 exiting Turn 4.

Twenty-six years later, Myers still wishes the full No. 3 crew had gotten to pull the double together but dearly treasures the memory of pitting an Indy car and a Cup car in such storied events on the same day.

“I don’t want anybody to think that I’m trying to put myself in the same category with these guys who go up and run 500 miles and run 600 miles,” Myers told “But just to be able to go and do that and do both of them on the same day? Pretty proud of that.”

This weekend marks Wentz‘s turn from atop the spotter stand. A familiar background with Sato and the RLL Racing team led the program back to Wentz during the winter to get the figurative ball rolling.

Team co-owner Mike Lanigan, driver Takuma Sato, co-owner Bobby Rahal and spotter Brent Wentz pose after winning the 2020 Indy 500.
Team co-owner Mike Lanigan, driver Takuma Sato, co-owner Bobby Rahal and spotter Brent Wentz pose after winning the 2020 Indy 500.

“The opportunity to do the double came up a little bit before the LA Coliseum race,” Wentz said. “I got a phone call from Rahal Letterman. I really didn’t think it was going to be possible because of my commitments to Rick Ware. But I proposed it to (RWR president) Robby Benton and Rick, and they said, ‘Yeah, go for it. It’d be a good story, and you’re at the point of your career where you‘re checking boxes.’ When am I ever going to get the opportunity to do it again, right? So they gave me the blessing, and we just went on with it.”

But while Larson‘s famed and long-well-known attempt has the support, effort and backing of Arrow McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports, Wentz’s attempt is more modest and self-reliant.

“It did come with a lot of hurdles of trying to find transportation back after the 500 and getting the people the right passes to take care of their necessities and let me use one of their jets and things like that,” Wentz said. “But I think we finally got it all set in stone the last week. So, a little stressful trying to get it all figured out because I’m on my own little island, you know? I‘m not Hendrick Motorsports; I‘m not Kyle Larson. But, you know, I tried to use my connections and things like that to make it happen. And I think we’re at the point where we’re all ready to go.”

This is also not the first time Larson and Wentz crossed paths with similar goals in mind. Wentz served as a secondary spotter on road courses for Larson‘s No. 5 Chevrolet through his 2021 championship run, leading to a Victory Lane visit together at Watkins Glen International.

Wentz said there may have been opportunities to simply share a ride with Larson, spotter Tyler Monn and the rest of the Hendrick crew en route to Concord from Indy. But that path seemed less appealing to Wentz — not because of its ease but in case of any early departures for either team.

“Yeah, you can talk to the Hendrick people and do that,” Wentz said. “But you know, Kyle is a great driver, and he’ll do a good job, but if he has some kind of weird mechanical problem or something halfway through the race, well, they’re not going to wait for me to get done with my job before they go back to Charlotte. So yeah, just, you know, trying to get it all figured out (and) set in stone was a little bit of a stressful time, but you know, the goal is to get it done.”

So, how exactly will the logistics of Wentz‘s plan work? In his research efforts to coordinate this bucket-list journey, the three-hour average of an Indy 500 affords a post-race window of roughly two hours to leave the track and arrive at the airport if the race begins at 12:45 p.m. ET.

“I believe it’s like an hour flight from Indianapolis to Concord, so you do have a good amount of time — but it’s still cutting it close,” Wentz said. “For me, doing it independently, it’s going to be a little bit more of a challenge to get there in time. Kyle, (NBC Sports analyst and Coke 600 racer) Jimmie Johnson … those guys, they’re gonna have it figured out, right? They’ve got so many connections and so many ways to get back and forth from helicopters and police escorts and just a lot of stuff that I’m not going to have access to, they’re going to have.

“Like I said, my deal is a little different. But, you know, the opportunity to do it was there, so we’re going to do our best to knock it out the best we can.”

Kaz Grala races with Alex Bowman and Chase Briscoe during NASCAR All-Star practice at North Wilkesboro.
Kaz Grala races with Alex Bowman and Chase Briscoe during NASCAR All-Star practice at North Wilkesboro.

The added effort comes from his family behind the scenes, specifically his wife, who will have Wentz‘s truck ready and waiting for him upon landing in Concord to hustle over to the speedway.

Benton, a former racer himself with limited starts across the Xfinity, Truck and ARCA Menards series, is serving as Wentz‘s pinch hitter on the NASCAR stand in Wentz‘s absence. Benton spotted Grala‘s No. 15 Ford in last weekend‘s All-Star Open practice at North Wilkesboro Speedway and will do the same in this weekend‘s Coke 600 practice on Saturday (5:05 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

He’s also prepared to serve as the starting spotter on Sunday if circumstances slow down Wentz‘s Charlotte arrival time.

“We’re just trying to keep everything in-house to keep it simplified,” Wentz said. “And we know that maybe I won’t get back to the 600 for the national anthem. Maybe I’ll get back 50 laps into the race or 10 laps into the race. We’ll just see how the day goes in Indianapolis and kind of work on it from there. But we tried to keep it all in-house, simple so we could go through the kinks as a company and not have to drag people into it.”

Spotting for IndyCar versus NASCAR has its different nuances — ones which Wentz will need to be plenty conscious of as he prepares for 1,100 miles of racing to spot. The most significant difference, he said, is how he relays which driver is nearing.

In NASCAR, he notes, drivers’ numbers are how competitors are known and branded. That doesn‘t quite translate to IndyCar, which is more reliant on the paint schemes themselves.

“When you’re spotting NASCAR, you could say, ‘five (car lengths) back to the 6 car,’ and Kaz would be like, ‘Alright, well that‘s Brad (Keselowski).’ In IndyCar, the numbers aren’t as relevant, right? Like, you can say who’s the 21 car in IndyCar, and half the people won’t know that it‘s Rinus VeeKay because you’re not branded by your number. So the biggest thing is learning the paint schemes and learning who’s in what car. You spot by names. In IndyCar, you don’t spot by numbers. So you‘ve got to learn … the paint schemes.

“I think that’s the hardest thing from one to the other is just knowing who you’re racing because I’m not at the IndyCar races every week anymore to know who’s in what car,” added Wentz, who spotted for Callum Illott last season. “And a lot of things change and a lot of sponsors change. But in reality, it’s all relevant. IndyCars are way faster, but they’re all going the same speed. So it’s all relevant. You’re spotting; you’re just doing the same thing you do in NASCAR. It’s just at a different level.”

Sunday, Wentz takes both of his day jobs to a new level. And with one Indy 500 ring in his collection, there is a valid question to be asked: What happens if he wins again with Sato?

“That’s yet to be determined. So we’ll see,” Wentz said. “If that happens, I think I still want to go back because my commitment to the people that let me do it, gave me the opportunity to do it, is in Charlotte, so I think that’s where I need to be. I’ll fly back and kiss some bricks Monday if that needs to be done.”