Daytona 500: Top landing spot emerges for Helio Castroneves

Helio Castroneves, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/SRX/Getty Images)
Helio Castroneves, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/SRX/Getty Images) /

With Trackhouse Racing Team not fielding a third Daytona 500 entry, Helio Castroneves has a clear best option if he wants to compete in the NASCAR race.

Four-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves had a bet with SRX CEO Don Hawk that if he won an SRX race, Hawk would find him a NASCAR ride. Castroneves won the season opener at Five Flags Speedway back in June, and there has been talk of a Daytona 500 appearance ever since.

A month away from the 65th running of the Great American Race, nothing has materialized in terms of the 47-year-old Brazilian making his Cup Series debut, but a recent development points toward one landing spot emerging above the rest.

After several years of rumors, the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-owned The Money Team Racing organization finally made their Cup Series debut in last year’s Daytona 500, with Kaz Grala behind the wheel of the No. 50 Chevrolet.

The team fielded the entry in three more races throughout the year, with Grala in the car for two and IndyCar driver Conor Daly in the car for the other. The team plan to enter the No. 50 Chevrolet in at least six races this year, though Daly is the only driver they have named.

A Daytona 500 entry hasn’t been confirmed, but they have reportedly been in contact with Castroneves about making it happen.

Given Daly’s IndyCar background, it’s no surprise that they would consider a 31-time IndyCar race winner for the seat, especially since he has long been after a NASCAR ride in 2023.

Castroneves had also been linked to Trackhouse Racing Team as a part of PROJECT91, a third entry fielded by the Justin Marks and Pitbull-owned team designed for “renowned international racing drivers” in select races. However, they recently announced that they are directing the focus of PROJECT91 toward the road course races.

Notably, Castroneves’ appearance on the entry list does not guarantee him a spot in the race. The field is capped at 40 cars, and the 36 chartered entries are locked in.

There are already five confirmed non-chartered entries, meaning that the addition of a The Money Team Racing entry would ensure that at least two of the six don’t qualify. In fact, Grala needed a heroic last lap in his Duel race last year just to get the team into the main event, which he finished in 26th place.

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Single-car qualifying is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, February 15 before the Bluegreen Vacations Duels on Thursday, February 16. The Daytona 500 is scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 19.