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Shifting gears: IndyCar driver Conor Daly reflects on NASCAR Cup Series debut

Shifting gears: IndyCar driver Conor Daly reflects on NASCAR Cup Series debut

Conor Daly pulled “Jimmy Johnson” last weekend, but in the opposite direction.

Over the past two seasons, Johnson, a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and 83rd Cup Series winner, has switched gears and competed in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Last weekend on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, IndyCar veteran Conor Daly traded horseback riding by making his NASCAR Cup Series debut at the BankofAmerica Roval 400.

Daly drove the 50th Chevrolet for Team Money, owned by former boxing champion Floyd Mayweather.

The racetrack at Charlotte Motor Speedway is part oval, part roadside. Since Daly has an extensive background in road racing, several NASCAR teams hired the “road ring” to enter last Sunday’s race.

They include former Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat in 26th as well as road racers Joey Hand in 15th, Mike Rockenfeller in 77th and Loris Heismans in 27th.

When a team-money deal was struck with driver Ed Carpenter’s 20th Chevrolet to race Ed Carpenter in the NTT IndyCar Series, he seized the opportunity.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Daly told me the morning of the race in the garage area at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I watch it all. All die-cast NASCAR cars have grown up. It feels so surreal to do that.

“We had a mechanical issue in practice which caused me to get five laps so I’m going to use the whole race to learn.”

The opportunity was created when Daly’s IndyCar sponsor, BitNile, and Todd Ault, CEO and Chairman of BitNile Holdings, found an opportunity in NASCAR.

BitNile is a BitCoin marketplace doing business in NYSE under the name NILE.

“There’s business to be done in the NASCAR world and they want to boost their business as much as possible and that’s why we’re here,” Daly said.

The Roval’s landscape is best described as an “oval with an asterisk”.

“It’s a great track,” Daly said. “Love it. Well done. It’s well trimmed. It looks like a smaller Rolex 24 track in Daytona. I like a Rolex 24, and it feels like half the size.”

“It’s also like a playground on the street with walls nearby. You don’t have a lot of runoff in certain places, so it feels like that too.”

Since Daly had trouble in Saturday’s only Cup Series training session and couldn’t compete in the playoffs, he started at 39The tenth Sunday.

In what will eventually be a wild race, Daly finished 35The tenth.

“Knowing where we were on the track, knowing who we were racing against and knowing what lap times we’ve been running at some point, that’s definitely something I’m proud of,” Daly said.

Before Daly’s Nascar Cup Series debut, his motoring career consisted of two NASCAR Camping World Series starts, one in 2020, and 18The tenth– Final place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and one in 2021, 40The tenthFinishing place, also in Las Vegas.

In 2018, Daly drove the Roush Fenway Racing Ford to 31StreetFinalist Nascar Xfinity Series at Road America in Lake Elkhart, Wisconsin.

Daly has participated in 97 races of the NTT IndyCar Series in his career and finished 17 racesThe tenth in the 2022 championship standings.

“This car is very similar to the GT
GT
A car now,” Daly said of NASCAR’s next generation car. “I’ve driven a lot of GTs in my life, even my Rolex 24 at Daytona. I’ve driven big heavy cars before. It’s loud. It has a lot of power and it has a lot of fun to drive.

“Its dimensions are very large. It is a wide car. It is a tall car. It is a big machine. This is also different.”

Because the stock car is heavier, the braking points are much different than the more agile Indy car.

“It doesn’t take a lot of time, it’s a matter of fine-tuning it,” Daly explained. “You can get to 100 meters or 50 meters from the stopping point, but the last 50 meters is very difficult.

“It determines how much speed you can handle with a late brake point and it does that with other people around you as well. A lot of those people, I’ve never raced with in my life.”

Daly earned a lot of respect with the way he drove in Sunday’s race. He was not involved in any accidents with any other driver on the track, and was able to overcome the main tire problem, and later an electric fire in the car to finish the race.

“There were multiple different stages in those races and multiple different stages in my race as well,” Daly told me after the race. “We had a fairly clean first stage and then out of the gate on stage two we had the left front tire come loose. It was because of debris, we went offline. I had to turn around JJ Yeley after he made a mistake in the back.

“Offline Later in ace there were offline things that may have contributed to this. I stripped the frame off the coat of paint and stuck some body work off the lid as well.

“I refocused from there, started working my way forward again and another problem with the tire. The left front tire blew out on us from my mistake in a big front lock.”

Daly said he was using the rear bias for the entire race “a ridiculous amount” just to try to get more rear brakes.

“Once the electric current happened, we put it back too far because there was no bile,” Daly said. “It’s a tough situation, but we finished the race, got to the finish, and got as much experience as possible.

“We were running really fast at times when we were able to run constantly.”

He also had to learn a completely different racing style. It’s a car that doesn’t want to accelerate when the driver hits the gas pedal, doesn’t want to stop when the brakes are applied, and doesn’t want to turn when they turn the steering wheel.

This is very different from an Indy car, plus there is often more connection in the race.

“It’s different, but these cars are tough,” Daly said. “A lot of drivers rely on other cars, and it seems like something that can be done quite easily. This is something I have to learn. Also, how the air platform changes in polluted air.

“You learn more with each lap.”

Daly raced against many of these drivers for the first time, but he definitely knows them. In the racing community, IndyCar drivers watch Nascar and many Nascar drivers watch IndyCar.

“I’ve known Kyle Larson for a long time, but I haven’t interacted with him much,” Daly said of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion. “Chase Briscoe is a guy I interact with all the time. I talk to Chase Briscoe almost every day. AJ Allmendinger is a very close friend of mine. I talk to him all the time.

“Corey Lagoe is really a good friend of mine. There are a lot of people in this field I hope to see more but we are on two completely different schedules and always on the road.

“I have incredible respect for Tyler Riddick too. He said we were crazy doing what we do in IndyCar. I respect that.

“There are a lot of good drivers here. A lot of people I try to keep up with and get advice from.”

Daly was encouraged that his fastest lap was on lap 90, coming in late in the race.

The first 104 laps of the race were run without caution, the only yellow whistles up to that point for the end of the two-stage breaks.

Because of the extra time, the race cut 111 laps instead of the normal distance of 109 laps.

“I was really surprised by that, but in the end it looked like I was driving a completely different series,” Daly said. “There was a lot of madness, cars going everywhere.

“That was a NASCAR that I definitely watched for many years.

“He was great. The stewards were telling me to back off because they knew everyone was going to crash, and I did pull back. But I wanted to get a good view of him too, because it was my first Cup race. I definitely had a good view of him, and it was crazy to see how much The chaos that’s happening, but it’s great to be a part of as well. It was definitely something new to see and a completely different scene than the two previous reboots.”

Daly described his most fun side of racing.

“There was a period in the middle where I was behind Martin Truex and Chase Briscoe watching them go together behind me Brad Keselowski and we were there in terms of speed,” he explained. “I thought about passing on Truex but didn’t want to spoil anyone.

“It was nice to be able to learn from these guys and see where their experience helped them. I really learned a lot during that time.

“I also learned a lot behind AJ Almendinger. He helped me a lot on those courses before I got electrocuted.”

As for his IndyCar riding at Ed Carpenter Racing, this is the first time in his career that he makes a full-time deal with the same team for next season.

“You can really start working on the next step,” Daly said. By January, I want to know what 2024 will look like, so I’m definitely greedy. We are focused on 2023 and being even better. We have a lot of improvements to make, and I think we can, and we’re strong in a few places as well. We want to keep that strength going and help the rest of the trails as well.”

When Daley was a kid growing up in Noblesville, Indiana, Tony Stewart of Columbus, Indiana was the “Hoosier Hero” of the race. He can race any car anywhere and face anyone.

Daly hopes to become a versatile driver who has previously competed in several European Junior Series, A1GP, IndyCar, Imsa, Usac Midgets and now Nascar.

From a competitive standpoint, Daly’s first NASCAR Cup Series race was a positive learning experience as he overcame many adverse situations but managed to reach the checkered flag. He drove hard, but also drove smart, and realized in the Nascar qualifying cut-off race, that he didn’t want to make any unwise moves that could affect a qualifying driver.

He was also impressed with the show itself and how Nascar and Charlotte Motor Speedway present their races compared to what he regularly sees at IndyCar.

“If I’m being completely honest, what NASCAR puts in is quite impressive,” Daly said. “The enormity of the weekend is impressive. The people who were there camping from Friday to the end of Sunday were impressive. It really was a big event.

“At IndyCar we have a lot of great, big events, but there was just something about that weekend where I hope IndyCar can get back to that level. It’s great to be a part of.

“It has been a very big weekend to be a part of and I want to do it again. I hope racing can resume tomorrow. I have learned a lot of things and would like to give NASCAR another chance.”


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