NASCAR: Surprising announcement eliminates possible Daytona 500 entry

Daniel Suarez, Ross Chastain, Trackhouse, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Daniel Suarez, Ross Chastain, Trackhouse, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Trackhouse Racing Team opted not to field a third entry in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

Early in their second NASCAR Cup Series season last year, the Justin Marks and Pitbull-owned Trackhouse Racing Team announced an initiative called PROJECT91, a third entry designed for “renowned international racing drivers” in select races.

The entry, the No. 91 Chevrolet, made just one appearance in 2022, with 2007 Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen driving the car in the road course races at Watkins Glen International in August.

The plan was to really get the program up and running in 2023, with the entry expected to appear in between six and eight races throughout the season.

However, the NASCAR season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway will not be one of those six to eight races.

All in all, this is probably a smart move by Marks, even though many fans were looking forward to seeing the No. 91 Chevrolet — and its driver — in the Great American Race.

Most international drivers have much stronger backgrounds in road course racing than oval races, and a superspeedway, pack-style race such as the Daytona 500 could be considered a whole new beast.

Plus, there are already five non-chartered entries on the entry list for the 200-lap race around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) high-banked Daytona Beach, Florida oval, and at least one more is expected.

With the 36 chartered entries locked into the 40-car field, there are only four open spots, guaranteeing that at least somebody will fail to qualify by the time the single-car qualifying session and the Bluegreen Vacations Duels are in the books.

It simply wasn’t worth it for Trackhouse Racing Team to add PROJECT91 to this year’s Daytona 500.

Putting the focus solely on full-time drivers Ross Chastain, who is set for his second year behind the wheel of the No. 1 Chevrolet, and Daniel Suarez, the driver of the No. 99 Chevrolet who joined the team when they entered the Cup Series in 2021, for the Daytona 500 is a wise move.

Chastain and Suarez both earned their first Cup Series victories — and playoff berths — in their first season as teammates last year, and Chastain earned one of his two victories in a superspeedway race at Talladega Superspeedway.

However, the Daytona 500 was a race to forget for the team, as Chastain wrecked out and Suarez finished in 18th place.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

This year’s Daytona 500 is scheduled to get the NASCAR Cup Series season underway on Sunday, February 19. The race is set to be broadcast live on Fox from Daytona International Speedway beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.