What drivers said after Bristol Cup dirt race

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Here is what drivers had to say about Monday’s race on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR’s first Cup dirt race since 1970:

Joey Logano — Winner: “Man, it’s incredible. How about Bristol on dirt? This is incredible, unbelievable racetrack — great job by everyone that prepped the track. Obviously, a lot of work over here the last few days. We did a lot of work in the dirt department here the last few weeks. My buddy Ryan Flores and my car chief Jerry Kelley doing a good job with the modified and just making laps and learning where I was going. A lot of that helped. Kevin Buskirk helped a lot, too. He has a lot of knowledge and obviously Paul Wolfe, this team, great car obviously to be able to execute the race that we did and get a win. I was getting nervous. There were so many first-time winners and different winners than there has typically been I said, ‘We’ve got to get a win to make sure we get in the playoffs,’ so it’s amazing to get this Shell/Pennzoil Mustang into Victory Lane at Bristol. There’s nothing like winning at Bristol, but putting dirt on it and being the first to do it is really special.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 2nd: “We really focused on just being more consistent week in and week out. We had some really high moments last year and some really low moments. We’re just trying to even things out, take the speed of our race cars, make sure we execute when we’re at the racetrack, when we’re in the shop, just being prepared. That’s starting with me, the things I do behind the wheel, the things I do off the racetrack preparing, going into the weekend, just getting that mindset going into each race that it’s one race at a time. We didn’t get off to the hottest start. We struggled a little bit at the 500. Had a couple mistakes that cost us at the road courses. Really, other than that, we’ve stuck to our game plan and done everything that we’ve wanted to do and accomplish every week. Coming into the Bristol dirt event, I felt like I was going to be comfortable on the racetrack. But I felt like these are the best drivers out there. They were going to adapt, their teams were going to adapt, bring good race cars, as well. I didn’t want to put too much emphasis on, Hey, we have to go win. We methodically worked our way throughout this race of getting our race car better, not freaking out early in the race, knowing that the track conditions were going to change, and probably come around the balance of our race car. We did that. Got our first top five, top 10 of the year. Trying to keep that momentum going into an off weekend and start back fresh when we get going again.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 3rd: “I was kind of guessing, but I thought I could – on that last restart – run the top-end hard, but they didn’t prep it in-between cautions like they did before, so it was just marbles up there. I’m proud of this whole FedEx Camry team. Man, I thought I had a shot there. I cut (Logano) too many breaks there when he was cutting us off, but at the end of the day it looked like he had a little bit better car in the long run. I’m proud of this whole team. We are third-best again.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 4th:  “I am just very, very proud of my team that they brought a very fast car and I was able to learn as I went. It was a challenge. Last probably five days ago was my first time ever on a dirt car. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoy a lot. I enjoy a lot, as well, the entire weekend. Overall I felt that we’re very close. That always bring a smile to my face. But it wasn’t close enough. So we have to keep working. Now I’m excited actually that we’re going to come back next year with another shot to race and compete for the win in Bristol on dirt.  it was already a good day for us, running up front, leading laps, and staying in the top 10, top 5 the entire race.But if you look at it, last week we were very similar. I mean, we didn’t lead laps, but I made a mistake in the last pit stop, and that took away our chance to finish either fifth or sixth. It’s the second week in a row that we’ve been running strong. I don’t see this as, okay, we run good because we’re on dirt. I feel like everyone at Trackhouse Racing has done an incredible job to work hard on these cars, get them better. Really a lot of support from RCR, engines and chassis and everything. I feel like we still a long ways to go from where we want to be, but we’re heading the right direction.”

Ryan Newman — Finished 5th: “That was fun, no doubt. It was a good run for our Oscar Mayer Ford Mustang and a great team effort the entire week. I wish we could have had a chance to run the Truck race for Coke and Aggressive Hydraulics. I am really proud of the effort and a lot of guys got to see a lot more and experience a lot more. We got turned around there from a racing accident in turn 2 with the 24 and had to fight back and did. We just didn’t make it all the way back to the front. We had a pretty good car. I would have liked to see what we would have done with some track position but I am sure everyone else would say the same thing.”

William Byron — Finished 6th: “We had a lot of fun today. I felt like we were really good in Stage 1 and 2, and then I got too loose. The car just didn’t have enough to lean on and we struggled on the restarts because of that. We got it really good by the end and came back from eleventh to sixth. It was good; a lot better than I would have thought. We’ll move onto Martinsville and try to win that one.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 7th: “That was a tough day for everybody, but I’m really proud of my BetMGM team for sticking with me all day long. It was truly a battle out there to keep up with the changing track conditions. I felt like we had everything come at us today. Our No. 8 BetMGM Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE fired off too loose and then built too tight as the track changed. Visibility was a huge challenge too. My spotter, Derek Kneeland, did a great job helping me through all the restarts when I couldn’t see anything on the track with all the dust. Towards the end of Stage 2, my engine temps started pegging and we were all worried that was going to ruin our race, but thankfully a caution came out at the right time. I was able to cool it off long enough under yellow to make it to the stage break and have my team work on it. We had a shot at a top-five at the end today, but I went for it on the top and the grip just wasn’t there like I hoped. But overall, a really good day for us. We’ll take this top-10 finish and build on it in a couple weeks at Martinsville Speedway.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 8th: “Obviously, it was a long day, for sure, starting up towards the front and just hanging around there. We ran fifth or something in the first stage, but we were struggling a little bit with our race car and trying to find the best way to work on it and fix it. It was pretty tight in the middle. We couldn’t get the tightness out of it all day until the last run, really.  And then we got really good, but we faded a little bit there and then had a restart and I couldn’t see nothing. Everyone was in the dust, and I think I chopped down on the 18 and we wrecked and, luckily, we were able to fix it up nice and made some really good changes there for that last run. We drove all the way from like 22nd or 23rd to eighth, so just really proud of the effort. It’s a shame we didn’t find that change a little sooner than what we did, but, overall, a good comeback by the 12 group.”

Erik Jones — Finished 9th: “It was a good day for our No. 43 Tide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE at the Bristol Motor Speedway. We started a little bit further back in the lineup, and worked our way towards the top-10. Our Richard Petty Motorsports team ended up getting some good stage points throughout the day (Stage 2, eighth place) and ended up coming home in the ninth place. It was a solid day. What we were looking for today was getting back towards the top 10, and I think our Chevrolet Camaro was probably a little bit better than that even. We just kind of ran out of laps and ran out of time the way the race was sectioned out. We got some good notes. It sounds like we are going to do this again in the future, so hopefully we can take something we learned from today, move forward with it and bring it back next time.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 11th: “We had a solid day with our Discount Tire Ford. I learned a lot for when we come back here next time. I’m happy for Joey and his team.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 12th: “It was a fun day on the Bristol dirt.  Our Love’s Travel Stop Ford Mustang was hooked up at the end. We passed a lot of cars on that last stage with 50 to go. I think we ended up 12th, so it was a solid day, a good points day, a lot of fun on the dirt. Visibility was tough. It was hard to see, but it was great racing there at the end. Thanks to all my guys. They brought a really fast Ford Mustang and it was a lot of fun. For a guy that doesn’t have any dirt experience this was a pretty good run.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 16th: “We tried the slow and steady approach, tried to keep all the fenders on the Monster Energy Chevy, maybe that was too much of the old man sequence. Not many scratches on it, but not much speed, just tried to take care of it. It was good to see to see fans back at the track.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 17th: “We had a good M&M’S Messages Toyota. I was able to get out front, but then we had too much mud on the grille and overheated, and it got us behind. I was able to get back on the lead lap, but when you get back in the pack like that, it was really hard to make up a lot of ground. We’ll put this one behind us, take the week off and get ready for Martinsville.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 20th: “That was not the race we wanted for our HighPoint.com Ford Mustang. Obviously, we had high expectations for this weekend. After running the Truck Series race earlier today I knew it was going to be a challenge. A lot of what happened there was out of our control with the accidents. We actually were heading in the right direction there in Stage 2 but, once again, got hit from behind and just never really recovered from it. I’m just looking forward to the week off before we head to Martinsville.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 21st: “What a day at Bristol Motor Speedway. We fought hard all day, but we just never had the Bass Pro Shops / TRACKER Off Road Chevrolet we needed. It’s perplexing because it was a night and day difference from our practice sessions to the race. The team never gave up and worked all day to improve our handling. We’ll go back to Welcome to evaluate everything and start working on a game plan for next year’s race.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 22nd: “Not how we wanted to end our day. We lost fourth gear early on and it just affected the rest of our race. I really think we could have been up front at the end. It’s going to be nice to have a weekend off this week and we will come back strong in Martinsville.”

Cole Custer — Finished 24th: “It was so cool to be a part of something this historic. It was definitely uncharted territory to put our Cup cars on dirt. But everybody did their best to adapt to everything that happened throughout the weekend, and I think the fans got a new kind of show. Looking forward to taking what everybody learned this weekend and making everything better for when we come back next year. I think our HaasTooling.com Ford team did its best to deal with everything that was thrown at us. Our biggest issues turned out to be trying to find forward bite on the straightaways and finding ways to tighten up the car. We now have a notebook to work with for next time.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 26th: “I think the event was fun, for sure. It was unique, and I think we’re all still learning what it takes to run this event, whether it’s the teams or the track. We were running well, we were in the top 10, top 20, all day, which was really nice, and I think we just missed it a little bit on our last adjustment. You get bobbled out of place one time and you lose all your spots. It’s just unfortunate we ended up not where we ran all day. That’s a bummer, but all day we ran in a good position, where we should’ve been running. It’s a positive. We learned a lot. When we come back, I think we’ll definitely have a chance at improving that spot. I thought managing your tires would help, but it didn’t seem to help lap times if you saved your tires. Whether you burned them off or saved them, it didn’t seem to help the grip in the car and the speed. Definitely a lot of learning this weekend. When we come back, we’ll be massively improved.”

Christopher Bell — Finished 34th: “I was just trying to run the water in under yellow. I knew it was a little bit slick, but I felt like I could go up there and make some time and I kind of entered shallow underneath of it and tried to pick it up on exit and it was just really greasy up there. I hate it for all of our partners – IRWIN Tools, PristineAuction.com, Toyota, TRD. That was a lot of fun, being able to be out there for that first run was really cool and hate it that I can’t be out there longer.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 35th: “Just a disappointing day for the Clover team. We were making progress and working to see how the track conditions would change. Unfortunately, we didn’t even make it to the end of the first stage. Just a wrong place at the wrong time kind of moment.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 36th: “It started before that.  The 77 slipped off the bottom.  I was hunting the bottom and he slipped off the bottom, and I was trying to get in between him and the silly humps there and he turned back down across my nose and hit me in the right-front and kind of ran me up over the dirt hump and I spun.  You can’t stop.  You can’t see.  That’s honestly the biggest problem.  In dirt racing you don’t have a windshield in front of you, so you can pull a tearoff.  We can’t reach out there and pull a tearoff off our windshield, so you can’t see anything.  Everybody just comes piling in because you can’t see.”

SHANE GOLOBIC — Finished 37th: Bristol on dirt was awesome. Bummer that the heat races got rained out because I feel like that would’ve helped a little bit (with the lack of experience in a stock car.) Nonetheless, we were pretty good. The first however many laps we got to run, we were passing cars and having a lot of fun. It’s just a shame we couldn’t get more laps in. That’s part of racing sometimes, getting caught up in someone else’s mess. I had a lot of fun, obviously Live Fast (Motorsports) has got a good car cause we were rolling pass some pretty good teams out there, with a guy like myself, who doesn’t have a lot of experience out there. “

Surveying key race dates for the 2023 Cup season

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NASCAR Cup Series cars will fire up again Feb. 5 as the 2023 season begins with the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.

Two weeks later, the regular season opens with the Feb. 19 Daytona 500, for decades the curtain-raiser for the Cup Series’ 10-month cross-country marathon.

With only a single week break in mid-June, the Cup schedule visits familiar stops like Darlington, Bristol, Martinsville, Talladega and Dover but adds two new locations that should be highlights of the year — North Wilkesboro and Chicago.

Here’s a look at key races for each month of the season:

February — With all due respect to the unique posture of the Clash at the Coliseum (Feb. 5) and the apparent final race on the 2-mile track at Auto Club Speedway (Feb. 26) before it’s converted to a half-mile track, the Daytona 500 won’t be surpassed as a February highlight. Since the winter of 1959, the best stock car racers in the land have gathered on the Atlantic shore to brighten the winter, and the results often are memorable. Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Jeff Gordon and so many others have starred on Daytona’s high ground, and sometimes even rookies shine (see Austin Cindric’s victory last year).

MORE: Friday 5: Legacy aiming for breakout season

March — The newly reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway saw its racing radically changed last year with higher banks and straights that are tighter. The track now is considered more in the Daytona/Talladega superspeedway “family” than an intermediate speedway, generating a bit of the unknown for close pack racing. William Byron and Chase Elliott won at AMS last year.

April — Ah, the return to Martinsville (April 16). Despite the rumors, Ross Chastain’s wild last-lap charge in last October’s Martinsville race did not destroy the speedway. Will somebody try to duplicate Chastain’s move this time? Not likely, but no one expected what he did, either.

May — North Wilkesboro Speedway is back. Abandoned by NASCAR in 1996, the track’s revival reaches its peak May 21 when the Cup All-Star Race comes to town, putting Cup cars on one of stock car racing’s oldest tracks for the first time in a quarter century.

June — The June 11 Sonoma road course race will end 17 consecutive weeks of racing for the Cup Series. The schedule’s only break is the following weekend, with racing resuming June 25 at Nashville Superspeedway. Sonoma last year opened the door for the first Cup win by Daniel Suarez.

July — The July holiday weekend will offer one of the biggest experiments in the history of NASCAR. For the first time, Cup cars will race through the streets of a major city, in this case Chicago on July 2. If the race is a success, similar events could follow on future schedules.

August — The Aug. 26 race at Daytona is the final chance for drivers to qualify for the playoffs, ratcheting up the tension of the late-summer race considerably.

September — The Cup playoffs open with the Southern 500, making Darlington Raceway a key element in determining which drivers have easier roads in advancing to the next round.

October — The Oct. 29 Martinsville race is the last chance to earn a spot in the Championship Four with a race victory. Christopher Bell did it last year in a zany finish.

November — Phoenix. The desert. Four drivers, four cars and four teams for the championship.

 

Trackhouse Racing picks up additional sponsorship from Kubota

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Trackhouse Racing announced Friday that it has picked up additional sponsorship for drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez from Kubota Tractor Corp. for the 2023 season.

Kubota sponsored Chastain’s No. 1 Chevrolet last October at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It is expanding its sponsorship to six races for the new season.

Chastain will race with Kubota sponsorship at Auto Club Speedway, Phoenix Raceway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Homestead-Miami. Suarez’s Chevrolet will carry Kubota livery at Texas Motor Speedway.

MORE: Friday 5: Legacy seeks breakout year in 2023

The team also announced that a $10,000 donation will be made to Farmer Veteran Coalition for each Kubota-sponsored race in which Chastain finishes in the top 10. The FVC assists military veterans and current armed services members who have an interest in farming.

“The sponsorship from Kubota is especially meaningful to me because it allows me to use my platform to shine a bright light on agriculture and on the men and women who work so hard to feed all of us,” said Chastain, whose family owns a Florida watermelon farm.

 

Friday 5: Legacy MC seeks to stand out as Trackhouse did in ’22

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While the celebration continued after Erik Jones’ Southern 500 victory last September, executives of what is now Legacy MC already were looking ahead.

“(September) and October, decisions we make on people are going to affect how we race next (February), March and April,” Mike Beam, team president, told NBC Sports that night.

Noah Gragson had been announced as the team’s second driver for 2023 less than a month before Jones’ win. 

But bigger news was to come. 

The team announced Nov. 4 that Jimmie Johnson would become a co-owner, lifting the profile of a team that carries Richard Petty’s No. 43 on Jones’ cars.

As February approaches and racing resumes, a question this season is how far can Legacy MC climb. Can this team mimic the breakout season Trackhouse Racing had last year?

“I think everybody looks for Trackhouse for … maybe the way of doing things a bit different,” Jones told NBC Sports. “Obviously, starting with the name. We’ve kind of gone that same direction with Legacy MC and then on down from there, kind of how a program can be built and run in a short amount of time.

“There’s some growth in the back end that we still have to do to probably be totally to that level, but our goal is definitely to be on that same trajectory that Trackhouse was over the last two seasons.”

Trackhouse Racing debuted in 2021 with Daniel Suarez. He finished 25th in the points. The organization added Ross Chastain and several team members from Chip Ganassi Racing to form a two-car team last year. Chastain won two races and finished second in the points, while Suarez won once and was 10th in the standings. 

Legacy MC co-owner Maury Gallagher purchased a majority interest in Richard Petty Motorsports in December 2021 and merged the two teams. Jones won one race and placed 18th in points last year. Ty Dillon was winless, finishing 29th in points and was replaced by Gragson after the season. 

“Legitimately, we were a pretty new team last year coming in,” Jones said. “There were a handful of Richard Petty Motorsports guys who came over, but, for the most part, it was a brand new team.

“I think what we built in one year and done is similar to Trackhouse in their first year. I think maybe even we were a step ahead of where they were in their first year.”

Legacy MC looks for more with Jones, Gragson and Johnson, who will run a limited schedule this year. Johnson will seek to make the Daytona 500 field.

Jones said Johnson has infused the team with energy. Gragson has been trying to soak up as much as he can from Johnson.

Gragson told NBC Sports that having Johnson as a teammate is “going to be an incredible opportunity for a young guy like myself, first year in the Cup series, a rookie, to be able to lean on a seven-time champion.

“Incredible person, friend, mentor that Jimmie has become for myself. He’s probably going to be pretty over me by the time we get to the Daytona 500 because I just keep wearing him out with questions and trying … pick his brain.”

2. Kyle Busch’s impact

Car owner Richard Childress says that Kyle Busch already is making an impact at RCR.

Busch joins the organization after having spent the past 15 seasons driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch will pilot the No. 8 Chevrolet for RCR this year.

He took part in a World Racing League endurance race at Circuit of the Americas in December with Austin Dillon and Sheldon Creed. The trio won one of those races.

“I was down there for that, just watching how (Busch) gets in there and works with everybody,” Childress said. “He’s a racer. He wants to win. That’s what I love about him.”

Childress sees the influence Busch can have on an organization that has won six Cup titles — but none since Dale Earnhardt’s last crown in 1994 — and 113 series races.

“He brings a lot of experience and knowledge,” Childress said of Busch. “I think he’ll help Austin a lot in his career. I think he can help our whole organization from a standpoint of what do we need … to go faster.

Dillon told NBC Sports that the team has changed some things it does in its meetings based on feedback from Busch. Dillon also said that he and Busch have similar driving styles — more similar than Dillon has had with past teammates. 

“I think as we go throughout the year and he gets to drive our race cars, he’ll have some new thoughts that he’ll bring,” Dillon said of Busch. “I think we’re already bringing some new thoughts to him, too.”

3. New role for Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick, entering his final Cup season, has joined the Drivers Advisory Council, a move Joey Logano said is important for the group.

“Kevin is necessary to the sport, even post-driving career,” Logano told NBC Sports. “He’s necessary for our sport’s success. Kevin sees it and does something about it. 

“He’s always been vocal, right? He’s always been very brash, and like, boom in your face. That’s what people love about Kevin Harvick. Something I like about him as well is that you know where you stand. You know where the weaknesses are. 

“He’s going to push until something happens. That’s great. There’s nothing wrong with that. Having him on the Advisory Council now for the drivers, his experience, but also his willingness to push, is important.”

Jeff Burton again will lead the group as Director of the Council. The Board of Directors is: Harvick, Logano, Kyle Petty, Austin Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Corey LaJoie, Kurt Busch and Tom Buis.

Logano, Petty, Dillon, Suarez, LaJoie and Busch all return. Buis, a board member of Growth Energy after having previously been the company’s CEO, joins the drivers group and provides a business background. 

4. Finding one’s voice

Chase Briscoe’s contract extension with Stewart-Haas Racing means he could be the longest tenured driver there in the near future.

The 28-year Briscoe enters his third Cup season at SHR, but the landscape is changing. This will be Kevin Harvick’s final season in Cup. Ryan Preece is in his first season driving in Cup for the team. Aric Almirola was supposed to have retired last year but came back. How long he remains is to be determined.

Those changes could soon leave Briscoe as the team’s senior driver.

“It’s a role that is crazy, truthfully, to think about because that could be me in the next year or two, being I wouldn’t say that flagship guy, but being a leader as far as the drivers go in an organization,” Briscoe said.

“Truthfully, I feel like that’s something I want to be. I’ve always enjoyed that kind of leader, team building type of stuff. So, yeah, if that role is kind of placed on me naturally, then that’s one that I would love to have and try to do it to the best of my ability. I feel like that’s a role that you don’t choose, it kind of chooses you.”

Briscoe, who won the spring Phoenix race and made the playoffs last year, said that he’s becoming more comfortable speaking up in team meetings. 

“I look back, especially on my rookie year, we’d go into our competition meeting on Tuesday and, truthfully, I wouldn’t really talk much,” he said. “I would say kind of what we thought for the weekend, but outside of that I would just kind of sit there and listen.  

“This past year, I definitely talked a lot more, and I’d bring up ideas and kind of say things I wanted to get off my chest, where in the past I wouldn’t have done that. I feel like as I’ve gotten more confident in myself and my position, I’ve gotten to the point where I speak my mind a little bit more and, I guess, be a little bit more of a leader.”

5. Busch Clash field

NASCAR released the preliminary entry list for the Feb. 5 Busch Clash. No surprise, the entry list features only the 36 charter teams. Those teams are required to be entered.

With 27 cars in the feature — which is expanded by four cars from last year’s race — there’s no guarantee a non-charter car could make the field. That’s a lot of money to go across country and face the chance of missing the main event.

The Daytona 500 field has four spots for non-charter cars. With that race’s payoff significantly more, it will attract at least five cars for those spots: Jimmie Johnson (Legacy MC), Zane Smith (Front Row Motorsports), Chandler Smith (Kaulig Racing), Austin Hill (Beard Motorsports) and Travis Pastrana (23XI Racing). Helio Castroneves confirmed Thursday that he will not enter the 500. He had been in talks with the team co-owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather.

Helio Castroneves rules out Daytona 500

Helio Castroneves Daytona 500
Robert Scheer/Indy Star/USA TODAY NETWORK
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Helio Castroneves might be at the 2023 Daytona 500, but the four-time Indy 500 winner won’t be in a race car.

During a news conference Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, Castroneves confirmed in response to a question from NBC Sports that he essentially has ruled out attempting to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the Feb. 19 season opener.

As recently as last Thursday at Rolex 24 Media Day, Castroneves, 47, said he still was working on trying to piece together a deal.

The Brazilian had been negotiating with the Cup team co-owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather and would have been in an “open” entry that lacked guaranteed entry to the Great American Race. That potentially would leave him in the precarious position of needing to make the race on qualifying speed or a qualifying race finish (as action sports star Travis Pastrana likely might need in his Cup debut).

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“Unfortunately for me, lack of experience, no testing,” Castroneves said. “A lot of things. I believe it would be a little bit tough throwing myself in such a short notice, and to go in a place that you’ve got to race yourself into it. So as of right now, yes, it’s not going to happen.

“But we did have an opportunity. We just got to elaborate a little bit more to give me a little more experience on that. So there is more things to come ahead of us, but as of right now, I want to focus on the IndyCar program as well and (the Rolex 24 at Daytona).”

Castroneves, who has a residence in Key Biscayne, said he still might attend the Daytona 500

“I might just come and see and watch it and continue to take a look and see what’s going to be in the future,” he said.

Castroneves enters Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona having won the event the past two years. He made his signature fence-climb after winning last year with Meyer Shank Racing, which he will be driving for full time in the NTT IndyCar Series this year. He became the fourth four-time Indy 500 winner in history in his 2021 debut with Meyer Shank Racing.

The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion also has indicated an interest in Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 car that aims to place international drivers in a Cup ride (such as Kimi Raikkonen at Watkins Glen International last year). Team co-owner Justin Marks recently tweeted Trackhouse wouldn’t field the Project 91 car at the Daytona 500.

After winning the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience opener, SRX CEO Don Hawk had promised he would help secure a Daytona 500 ride for Castroneves.

Castroneves has been angling for a NASCAR ride for years, dating to when he drove for Team Penske from 2000-20. After winning the Rolex 24 last year, he said he had been lobbying Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart for help with getting in a Cup car.

Though Castroneves is out, Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported that Mayweather’s The Money Team Racing still is considering IndyCar driver Conor Daly for its seat.