Friday 5: Brad Keselowski building a ‘culture of high expectations’ at RFK Racing

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Brad Keselowski doesn’t shy from using the world fail as he discusses the culture he seeks to create as owner/driver of the rebranded Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing team.

There’s a purpose in using the word fail. Just as there is purpose in all that Keselowski does, even if it doesn’t seem apparent at first.

Ultimately, Keselowski’s goal is to do something that hasn’t been achieved in NASCAR in more than a decade: Turn a struggling organization into a winner.

While RFK Racing’s history features tales of success, it is winless in its last 163 Cup races — dating to July 2017. The organization last had a team finish in the top 10 in points in 2014.

“I’m not coming into the building trying to fire everybody,” Keselowski said. “That said, we are going to demand a higher level of performance.”

And a culture that matches.

“A culture of high expectations,” Keselowski calls it. “A culture that is not afraid to fail forward. Those are things that are really important to me. We’ve had some big discussions on it. A culture of accountability is super critical to me.

“Fail forward means not being afraid to fail but learning from it and getting better. I told the team in one my speeches, ‘I’m not afraid of failing. I’m afraid of not trying.’

“That doesn’t mean you can be reckless and fail in everything you do. It does give you permission to try things and learn from it. I think that’s really important for us.”

NASCAR Cup Series Test
Brad Keselowski during this week’s Next Gen test at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Keselowski, who once owned a Truck Series team, says running his company, Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, has helped shape his ideas of running an operation.

“It served as a petri dish for me to basically try new things,” he said. “I could learn from some tough mistakes … and become, overall, a more rounded person. With that came also some understanding of some other technologies that I really was not in a good place with before.”

Keselowski talks often about understanding new technologies and how the inability to do so could have a played a factor in the failure of others to excel in the sport.

It’s not just that area that Keselowski is examining. He talks about the process of turning RFK Racing into a consistent winner. Few things have been overlooked by Keselowski.

“We are investing pretty heavily in upfitting and upgrading our facilities within the current footprint,” said Steve Newmark, president of RFK Racing. “A lot of that may seem trite and cosmetic with paint and new floors and all that, and others more structured like where we’re going to put the human performance center.

“But these are things that Brad came in and said ‘I know you guys have been doing this for a while, but I don’t think this is the optimal way to do this.’ … He’s struck that right balance between coming in and trying to listen and understand how or why we do things, but, at the same time, saying ‘Hey I feel passionate that we can do better in this area if we change this.’ That’s the spark.”

Kevin Kidd, technical director at RFK Racing, said that “there are no sacred cows in the building as far as what our process is and what it should be.”

Ford 400
Tony Stewart is the last driver/owner to win a Cup title, claiming the 2011 crown. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

What Keselowski is trying to do was last done by Tony Stewart. He joined Haas-CNC Racing to form Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009.

Haas-CNC Racing was winless in 284 Cup starts before Stewart arrived. He won four times in 2009 and the championship in 2011.

So, there’s a possible roadmap, but that doesn’t mean the same path can be taken, or the same results can occur in the same manner.

Other organizations that once were pillars of the sport, including what was known as Roush Fenway Racing, have fallen from the top tier. Roush’s two wins since 2014 equals Front Row Motorsports’ victory total in the same span.

It’s quite a change for Roush, which was was among the dominant teams from 2002-08, winning two championships and an average of nine races a season.

The organization’s steady decline saw Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards leave for Joe Gibbs Racing. Roush could not continue their success after they left.

Rising to the sport’s elites will be challenging. Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Team Penske combined to take 80% of the top-10 positions in points the past three seasons.

Stewart-Haas Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing were the only other organizations to have drivers finish in the top 10 in points during those years.

So, how can a team that was among the sport’s pillars return after such a long time away from the top pedestal?

Steve Newmark, team president, says the Next Gen car will help balance the power in the sport since teams no longer build their own cars. All teams are learning the fundamentals — and nuances — of the car and what it will take to make it faster.

“Now, the best teams are going to be the best teams … but we think that Next Gen presents a fairly unique opportunity in the history of this sport to rise back on top,” he said.

Newmark also preaches patience in this journey.

“It’s not going to happen with a snap of a finger,” he said of becoming one the elite organizations again. “You have to have realistic expectations that it’s going to be gradual.”

NASCAR Cup Series Test
The team logos on the rear quarter panel and bumper of Brad Keselowski’s car. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Newmark also notes the organization expects to show improvement in 2022.

“If you talk to Brad, he’s going to tell you he’s going to win races next year and compete for the championship,” Newmark said.

“From my perspective, we just need to be climbing that ladder and becoming more competitive on a day-by-day basis.”

That also means playoffs.

“Our expectations are both teams in the playoffs next year,” Newmark said. “(Keselowski’s goals) will be higher than that, which I want. I want him to be pushing.”

Keselowski is.

“I challenged the team to expand into areas that are outside of their comfort zone,” he said. “I prefaced it by saying that I’m way outside my comfort zone. … I left a team that had won or been playoff eligible for the last 10 years for one that hasn’t won a race in three or four years.

“I’m outside my comfort zone. I left Roger Penske, whose got this golden legacy, to come here. I left that comfort zone because I believe what we can do here. I still believe it. I’m more confident than ever that we can do it.

“That said, I think I’m asking the entire company, every employee to push their limits as well and to get outside of their comfort zone. That’s what is going to be required to turn this thing around.”

2. Closer ties

The Next Gen era already is dramatically different for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and JTG Daugherty Racing.

While the organization downsized from two cars to one after this year, Stenhouse says the team’s relationship with Chevrolet has grown. That’s allowed Stenhouse to go to the simulator, something he hadn’t done since 2019 when he was with Roush Fenway Racing and Ford.

Stenhouse was in the Chevy simulator after the Next Gen test on the Charlotte Roval and before this week’s test on the Charlotte oval. He’s scheduled to be back in the simulator today to add changes that worked in the test to the simulation program.

NASCAR Cup Series Test
As JTG Daugherty Racing’s only driver for 2022, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has been busy doing all the team’s Next Gen tests. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

“We’ll make sure those things keep correlating, so that we continue to make better adjustments and more calculated adjustments, especially if our practices are short practices,” Stenhouse said.

NASCAR is expected to have practice sessions at most Cup events in 2022, but many of those sessions will be brief.

“You’re not going to have a lot of time to make adjustments,” Stenhouse said of those practices. “It’s going to be really important to use the simulator correctly and make sure we unload the way we need to be.”

That will be key for a driver who showed significant progress in restarts and passing ability throughout the playoffs. More sim time could help him improve upon his 22nd-place finish in the points this past season.

Stenhouse admits that he wasn’t always keen to go to the simulator in the past.

“Back when I would do the sim, I didn’t feel a huge correlation from what we were doing there to the racetrack,” he said. “I was anxious to kind of see (now). We did a post-Roval test, and I felt like some of the things we did at the Roval correlated on the simulator.”

Another key for him this offseason is that he’ll do all the testing for JTG Daugherty Racing as its only driver. He said that is key in learning the new car at different tracks.

“I think (at Charlotte), the brake packages are so big now that we have with our race cars that any little touch of the brake really kills your speed,” he said. “We don’t have enough horsepower right now with the drag package. It takes two or three laps to get that speed back. I feel like that’s one thing that is noticeable here at Charlotte.

“But at the road course, we can stop so much better than we ever have. Your braking points aren’t even close. I don’t know if when we go to Phoenix (in December to test), is carrying momentum into the corner, lifting early and not using brake going to be beneficial, or is it going to be beneficial driving really far into the corner, using the brake package to slow it down a lot quicker?

“Just trying to find where that speed is going to be. It’s one reason why I feel it’s a benefit that we’re a one-car team, and I get to do every single test we do. I’ll be able to hit all these racetracks and have a lot of laps, two days, on each track.”

3. Offseason weight program

The Next Gen car is impacting the sport in ways drivers could not have imagined.

Take Ross Chastain, for instance.

He works with Josh Wise, a former driver who focuses on performance training with 15 Chevy drivers throughout Cup, Xfinity and the Camping World Truck Series.

Chastain, who weighs 150 pounds, says that Wise has set a goal for Chastain to gain 15 pounds in the offseason … because of the Next Gen car.

“We know these cars are hotter,” Chastain said. “We’re doing things to cool them down, but their plan for me is to put weight on to be ready to probably have to sweat it out in these races.”

Chastain noted the program is already underway.

“I’ve never taken protein powder and all this stuff,” he said. “I’m a water and beet juice guy. Watermelon juice.”

Chastain noted Thursday that he felt fine after a 35-lap run at the Next Gen test at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He cited the changes made to the car to allow more air to circulate inside it and reduce the extreme heat drivers have felt.

Another change for Chastain, who joins Trackhouse Racing, is that his beard his gone.

“Fresh start,” he said of the change.

4. Priorities

While much has been made about Kurt Busch joining 23XI Racing to be a mentor to Bubba Wallace, that overlooks a key role Busch has.

“I was hired as a driver,” he said. “My duties are to drive the 45 car with the best knowledge and smarts and swagger that I can, and to be consistent and find things that a veteran is supposed to find within a new car.

NASCAR Cup Series Test
Kurt Busch is encouraged by the energy level of his 23XI Racing team. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

“At the same time there are young engineers, young crew members that are eager to learn. All the knowledge that I have in certain areas I would love to transfer (to them).

“Then with Bubba, we know we want him to jump into the program with a mindset to win and to be there at another level next year. It’s already started to begin on that side of it.”

Busch admits it’s easier to count the number of people that he’s worked with before who are at 23XI Racing than count the ones he must learn.

“This new group, I can just feel the enthusiasm and the energy level,” he said.

One person Busch knows well is crew chief Billy Scott. They worked together in 2018 at Stewart-Haas Racing and won a race.

“I feel like our time at SHR was cut short a few years back,” Busch said. “So he was in my top three right away, and everybody at 23XI filtered through all the different candidates and we felt like Billy Scott would be the guy.”

5. Quick work

Justin Alexander, crew chief for Austin Dillon, detailed what the team did after Dillon wrecked early in Wednesday’s test session and had the car back on track that evening after going to Richard Childress Racing for repairs.

“The way this car is designed, with removable front and rear clips and body panels that bolt on and off, we were able to take the front clip off, pull the motor out. The motor was damaged, the front clip, obviously.

“Everything else was really intact. The rear bumper had a little bit of damage and the rear tail, so we had to replace the rear tail, the rear bumper, the left rear quarter panel and everything on the front — the hood, the fenders, the nose and then the front clip and engine.

“We had all of our guys back at the shop work on it and thrash on it for a few hours. … We did what this car was designed to do and that was to replace parts of the car that are damaged.”

Alexander said if this had happened during practice on a race weekend, he believes the team would have been able to have done all that work in the garage and have the car ready for the race the next day.

“Going though it (Wednesday), it certainly allowed us to see exactly what we needed, what we didn’t have, tools we didn’t have, things we could do differently. That way, when it does come time to do it at the racetrack in the future, we’ll certainly be more prepared for it. We’ll go back and study those things.”

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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.