NASCAR: Helio Castroneves makes Daytona 500 decision

Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing, IndyCar (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing, IndyCar (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Four-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves wants to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2023, but will it happen in the Daytona 500?

After winning the 2022 SRX season opener at Five Flags Speedway, Helio Castroneves revealed that he had a bet with SRX CEO Don Hawk that if he won an SRX race, Hawk would find him a NASCAR ride.

As a result, there has long been talk about the four-time Indy 500 winner making his NASCAR Cup Series debut in this year’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

Castroneves had been linked to two teams for this year’s running of the Great American Race at the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) high-banked Daytona Beach, Florida oval: Trackhouse Racing Team and The Money Team Racing.

The Justin Marks and Pitbull-owned Trackhouse Racing Team made sense as a result of their PROJECT91 initiative, designed to give internationally renowned drivers a chance to compete in the Cup Series.

But they recently confirmed that they are going to focus on road course races for PROJECT91 and the No. 91 Chevrolet and thus not enter the car in the Daytona 500.

As a result, the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-owned The Money Team Racing and the No. 50 Chevrolet became the most likely landing spot for the 47-year-old Brazilian. However, that has been ruled out as well, and Castroneves will not be making his Daytona 500 debut this year.

Despite ruling out the Daytona 500, Helio Castroneves still wants to compete at some point during the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

His deal with Hawk was never specifically tied to the Daytona 500. Interestingly, him being added to the Daytona 500 entry list wouldn’t have guaranteed him a spot in the race anyway. There are already five non-chartered cars on the entry list, and only four will get into the race since the field is capped at 40 cars and the 36 chartered entries are all locked in.

He would have had to qualify either via his speed in the single-car qualifying session or via his result in his Bluegreen Vacations Duel qualifying race. The same will be true for whoever ends up behind the wheel of the No. 50 Chevrolet, assuming The Money Team Racing still attempt to compete in the race.

They qualified for the race for the first time last year thanks to a heroic last-lap effort by Kaz Grala in the second Duel race. He finished the Daytona 500, the team’s first ever Cup Series race, in 26th place and competed in two of the team’s other three races throughout the season. IndyCar driver Conor Daly competed in the other.

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Daytona 500 qualifying is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, February 15, and the Bluegreen Vacations Duels are scheduled to take place on Thursday, February 16. The race itself is scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 19.