On Sunday, IndyCar drivers Conor Daly, Marco Andretti and Sage Karam will all make starts in NASCAR events at the ROVAL in Charlotte.
Conor Daly has made recent starts in the NASCAR Truck Series for NIECE Motorsports at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He also made a start in 2018 with Roush Fenway Racing at Road America in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Daly will make the 5th start for one of the newest Cup teams, The Money Team Racing, backed by legendary boxer Floyd Mayweather. His venture will be sponsored by BITNILE, the same company that sponsors Daly full-time in his IndyCar ride for Ed Carpenter Racing.
Marco Andretti has been rumored to make his debut in NASCAR for some time now. However, many were surprised that it was with Big Machine Racing in the upcoming Xfinity race on Saturday. Big Machine Racing has taken a step forward this season getting their first win at Texas with Tyler Reddick behind the wheel of the #48 Chevy Camaro. Andretti has spent the last two year preparing for his debut by learning how a stock car reacts inside the cockpit of Tony Stewart’s SRX Series machines. Andretti could be a scary underdog at the ROVAL.
Sage Karam will start his 13th career Xfinity Series race at the Charlotte ROVAL. Karam has looked like a veteran this season, nabbing his first Top 5 a few weeks ago at Daytona. It was announced that Karam will run the remainder of the final races of the Xfinity season with Our Motorsports driving the 02 machine. Karam raced in the ROVAL event last season and finished 25th for Jordan Anderson Racing.
This is some exciting news for auto-racing fans! While the three drivers are no stranger to stock car racing, it’ll be exciting to see how these will do in their respective equipment.
SO, WHY HAVE WE SEEN SO MANY OPEN-WHEEL DRIVERS TRY OUT NASCAR?
I think the main component of this invasion is the Superstar Racing Experience. Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham formed the Superstar Racing Experience or SRX in 2020. The series debuted in 2021 and finished up its second season a few short months ago. The cars are similar to late-model stocks and they series races on a collection of pavement and dirt short tracks across the United States.
In 2021, Tony Stewart won the championship but was followed closely behind by Indy Lights Driver, Ernie Francis Jr. and Marco Andretti. Both drivers returned to SRX the following season and continued strong runs. But, who was the 2022 champion? Well, it was none other than Marco Andretti. Andretti ran Full-Time in the 2021 and 2022 season driving the 98 car. He even won a race in 2021 at Slinger Speedway besting NASCAR legends like Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart. However, Andretti isn’t the only driver to find success in SRX.
WHICH OTHER INDYCAR DRIVERS COULD MAKE A START IN NASCAR?
The first race of the 2022 season was won by four-time Indianapolis 500 Champion Helio Castroneves. After his win, Castroneves teased a NASCAR start in 2023 in the biggest race of the NASCAR season, The Daytona 500. Castroneves hasn’t shed much light on his announcement since June, but fans should expect details soon.
Ferrucci makes plenty of starts in the Xfinity Series for Sam Hunt Racing. However, I could see Santino making a start in the Cup Series in 2023. You never know, Santino could be announced to be racing at the ROVAL for SHR, but I think Ferrucci is done racing in the Xfinity Series for the season.
This past season Indy 500 champion, tweeted after the debut of the 91 for Trackhouse Racing. Ericsson was live tweeting in support of F1 Champion Kimi Räikkönen making his Cup debut at Watkins Glen. After the race concluded, Ericcson teased wanting to make a start for the team. Could we see the Husky Chocolate colors in the Cup Series next season?
IndyCar drivers are no strangers to running in the Top 3 series of the NASCAR pipeline. In recent years we’ve seen Dario Franchitti, Jacques Villeneuve, and RC Enerson all make cup starts with NASCAR teams. Danica Patrick, who spent many years full-time in IndyCar, spent 2013-2017 full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series. Not all open-wheel drivers attempt full-time schedules but many attempt one offs. We’ve seen former F1 drivers make starts this season like Danial Kvyat and Kimi Räikkönen, and with Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91, we could see other Open-Wheel drivers heading over to NASCAR. Good luck to Daly, Karam and Andretti in their respective races this weekend!
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