NASCAR: Another IndyCar driver making Daytona 500 debut?

Kaz Grala, The Money Team Racing, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kaz Grala, The Money Team Racing, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

With Helio Castroneves not competing in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season opener, does this set up another IndyCar driver to make his Daytona 500 debut?

Four-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves had long been rumored as a potential driver for the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-owned The Money Team Racing in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

The 47-year-old Brazilian had a bet with SRX CEO Don Hawk that if he won an SRX race in 2022, Hawk would see to it that he got a ride in NASCAR at some point during the 2023 season. Castroneves went on to win the 2022 SRX season opener at Five Flags Speedway.

The Money Team Racing became Castroneves’ top landing spot after it was revealed that Trackhouse Racing Team was no longer an option.

The Justin Marks and Pitbull-owned team recently began the PROJECT91 initiative, which is designed to give internationally renowned racing talent a chance to compete in Cup Series races. However, they opted not to field the No. 91 Chevrolet in the Daytona 500 and to instead place a focus on the road course races.

However, it was recently announced that Castroneves, who is still seeking to make his Cup Series debut in 2023, will not make an attempt to qualify for the Great American Race this year.

With that being said, The Money Team Racing are still likely to field the No. 50 Chevrolet, just as they did for the first time last year.

There are already five non-chartered cars on the entry list for the race, and only four will qualify since the 36 chartered cars are locked into the 40-car field. So the No. 50 Chevrolet wouldn’t be locked in, but it could still make an appearance.

Could it perhaps provide another IndyCar driver with an opportunity to make his Daytona 500 debut?

Conor Daly was one of two drivers who competed for The Money Team Racing in their first Cup Series season last year, making his Cup Series debut in the playoff race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. He is also the only driver they have announced for the 2023 season, though his schedule hasn’t been confirmed.

In fact, not much about the entry has been confirmed, other than the fact that they would like to increase their schedule from four to at least six races and that they would like for Daly to be behind the wheel of the No. 50 Chevrolet in a number of them.

As of now, it looks like they are trying to put together a deal to get Daly in the car for the Daytona 500. He — or anybody else — would still have to qualify for the race, either via speed in the single-car qualifying session or result in one of the two Bluegreen Vacations Duels.

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The single-car qualifying session is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, February 15, followed by the Bluegreen Vacations Duels on Thursday, February 16. The Daytona 500 itself is scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 19.