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IndyCar driver Conor Daly interested in Xfinity Series road course ride

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Another IndyCar driver has mentioned they’d like to give NASCAR a go of it.

James Hinchcliffe mentioned the possibility in 2015 of competing in a Xfinity Series road course race and Marco Andretti has floated the idea a couple of times in the last year.

Now it’s Conor Daly’s turn.

Who is Conor Daly?

The 26-year-old driver is the son of veteran racer and broadcaster Derek Daly and stepson of Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles.

He has 39 IndyCar starts since 2014 and has competed full-time the last two seasons with Dale Coyne Racing and A.J. Foyt Racing.

His best finish is second at Detroit in 2016.

Daly’s old home at Dale Coyne Racing has the last available seat ahead of the season, which starts March 11 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

On Racer.com’s “Week in IndyCar” podcast, Daly said he had potential sponsorship for that ride fall through around Christmas.

“But as usual when people have money and they get asked to put it up for grabs they disappear,” Daly said. “That’s happened many times before. We’ll try to find the answer to the price tag.”

If no doors open for him in IndyCar, Daly said he has had discussions with Xfinity teams about competing in one of its three road course races. They visit Mid-Ohio, Road America and Watkins Glen.

IndyCar visits Mid-Ohio and Road America and raced at Watkins Glen in 2016 and 2017, but is not on the 2018 schedule.

“I’d love to try and do NASCAR stuff,” Daly said. “I’ve been trying to talk to Xfinity Series teams about their road course races. I think that would be very entertaining. I think it would be a great idea. I obviously love my IndyCar family, but if there’s no possibilities there and there seems to be some chances to be had in the NASCAR world, then I’m certainly going to take it because I want to drive anything that I can.”

Daly, who is appearing in the latest season of “The Amazing Race” with 2016 Indy 500 champion Alexander Rossi, said IndyCar is “my goal.”

“Obviously, it would really hurt to not be in IndyCar,” Daly said. “There’s only one seat left. I don’t know how much time I have to really try and nail it down.”

In the podcast, Daly also mentions the possibility of sports car racing.

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NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 81: Will Power

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IndyCar champion Will Power joined the NASCAR on NBC podcast in advance of the 101 running of the Indianapolis 500.

Power, who won the series title in 2014, is seventh in the standings after getting caught in a crash and finishing 23rd at the Indy 500.

The Team Penske driver discussed why he is in better shape than a year ago because of a new diet to alleviate food allergies, his tales of using Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s motorhome at Indy and the difficulty of finding a good game of squash in Charlotte.

The native Australian also talked about raising his newborn son in America and his comfort with becoming a more outspoken veteran in the series.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.

It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.

 

NASCAR America: Frenchman Simon Pagenaud learns how to speak Southern, y’all

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Sure, NASCAR America is about, well, NASCAR.

But we couldn’t help but include an excerpt from Thursday’s show that featured reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud, who will look to repeat last year’s win in this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on NBCSN.

With the series set to move to Birmingham, Alabama and Barber Motorsports Park next week, Pagenaud was tasked to learn how to speak less like a Frenchman and more like, well, a Southerner. Bless his heart, you might say.

To his credit, Pagenaud did an excellent job of making “Southern” the third language that he’s mastered after his native French and, of course, English.

Circuit of the Americas wants NASCAR, Texas Motor Speedway says no way

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Texas Motor Speedway has what in-state rival Circuit of the Americas wants: NASCAR.

Separated by a few hours – TMS in Fort Worth and COTA in Austin – and different racing platforms (1.5-mile oval vs. 3.4-mile road course), the two tracks have peacefully coexisted since COTA opened in 2012.

But that could be changing. COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein is interested in bringing NASCAR racing to his track.

“I’ve had contact with NASCAR officials, and we’ve heard from their fans and drivers,” Epstein said in a recent story in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. “Everyone seems to want to be here, so I see no reason why it couldn’t come together.

“It’s something fans are asking for in droves. We hear it, and I’m assuming (NASCAR) hears it, too. They are continuing to tweak their product, looking for new ideas. This would be something different, a change of pace.

“I’d be pretty optimistic it could happen because NASCAR said they want more road courses, more non-ovals. Now that they’ve said that, this is the best one in the country. So if enough fans want them here, I think they’ll be here one day.”

Epstein’s interest in NASCAR is not exactly sitting well with his counterpart at TMS, track president Eddie Gossage, particularly since this is the first that Gossage has heard of COTA reportedly having some form of discussions with NASCAR.

“Anyone can talk to a NASCAR official,” Gossage told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper. “What NASCAR official? What’d they say? That doesn’t mean a thing. We’re all bound by contracts.”

Texas Motor Speedway has a 20-year legacy of hosting NASCAR events on its 1.5-mile track, which is being repaved before the first of its two annual NASCAR race weekends in early April.

Texas Motor Speedway also hosts a Verizon IndyCar Series race each season.

Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

COTA, which opened in 2012, is entering its fifth full season of racing on its 3.4-mile Gran Prix-style road course. It holds a variety of events, particularly sports car racing.

But its biggest events are the Formula One Grand Prix on Oct. 20-22 and MotoGP on April 21-23.

The F1 race is two weeks before Texas Motor Speedway’s second NASCAR race weekend of the season (also part of the playoffs), and the MotoGP race is two weeks after TMS’s first NASCAR race weekend of 2017.

“But we’re old pros,” Gossage told the Star-Telegram. “This is my 38th season in major-league racing. Both TMS and (parent company Speedway Motorsports Inc.) have a tremendous amount of knowledge and talent and ability. They are trying to find their way in a really complicated and nuanced business. It’s all a new challenge for them.”

With new series sponsor Monster Energy, NASCAR is looking at ways to create new interest and attract new fans. One area that has been looked at is adding more road course races to the schedule (NASCAR has two road course races each year, at Sonoma, California, and Watkins Glen, New York).

That prospect interests Epstein, but also irritates Gossage, who told the Star-Telegram that TMS is in the second year of a five-year contract with NASCAR and has added geographic protection from the sanctioning body that other races will not be held in close proximity to TMS.

“I don’t blame (COTA) for wanting NASCAR races, it’s just that they’re 20 years too late,” Gossage told the Star-Telegram.

Neither COTA nor NASCAR officials responded to request for comment from the Star-Telegram.

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Report: Brad Keselowski thinking about racing in the Indianapolis 500

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Brad Keselowski is mulling the possibility of racing in the Indianapolis 500, according to a report Saturday by Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star.

“I’d say 20 percent (chance),” that Keselowski will attempt to race in the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day Team Penske president Tim Cindric said. “Never say never.”

Keselowski surprised NASCAR nation by running 40 laps (approximately 170 miles) in a Team Penske Indy car on June 15 during a test at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Keselowski drove Simon Pagenaud’s car after the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series points leader set it up for him.

Road America hosts Sunday’s Kohler Grand Prix, the first return of Indy cars there since 2007.

There’s no indication if Keselowski will try to race as early as the 2017 Indy 500, or whether it would be sometime in the future.

Keselowski has not commented on Cavin’s report. But after his June 15 test, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion tweeted “One of the best days of my life.”

Kurt Busch is the last full-time NASCAR driver to attempt the double, finishing sixth in the 2014 Indy 500 in an Andretti Autosport ride, as well as finishing 40th (due to engine problems) in the Coke 600. Busch was named the Indy 500 rookie of the year.

Earlier this week, Busch tested a Formula 3000 car in Abu Dhabi and reportedly may be considering racing in the Gulf 12 Hour endurance event there in December.

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