Conor Daly made his third career NASCAR Cup Series start during a trip to Circuit of the Americas. Now he will complete a historic feat at Texas Motor Speedway.
The next event on Daly’s schedule is the PPG 375 NTT IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway (April 2, 12 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock). When he climbs into the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, he will officially become the first driver to race in the NASCAR Cup Series and NTT IndyCar Series in Texas on back-to-back weekends.
“It’s pretty cool,” Daly told Heavy ahead of the Texas IndyCar weekend. “Honestly, I mean, I feel very lucky to be able to get to participate in the NASCAR Cup Series and then go right back to my home in IndyCar in Texas. I’ve loved racing in Texas in the past and I’ve done a lot of racing there in my life.
“I’ve been to a lot of races there in my life. So it’s been a lot of fun. BitNile.com has been the reason why we’re there and why we’re getting to do all these things. And we want to get them a win this weekend in IndyCar.”
Texas Motor Speedway is a track for which Daly has a great appreciation. He has an average finish of 15.4 in seven IndyCar Series starts at the track, as well as two top-10 finishes.
Why does Daly enjoy this track in the Lone Star State? There are multiple reasons. One of the biggest is the speed that is possible. Another is the opportunity to make some big gains with slight adjustments.
“I led there my rookie year. We’ve definitely done well there in the past, and I’ve enjoyed racing there,” Daly said. “But it’s just something — the high commitment, the high speed. I love that style of racing. I love what Texas is.
“If you find just a little bit in your car technically. Like if you make one adjustment before that race that gives you half a 10th of a second or half a mile an hour or a mile an hour over a long stint at Texas, I mean, that rewards you in a massive way. And I think that’s always been my skill is to have a good racecar, and that benefits you when you’re out there for 600 kilometers or whatever the race is.”
Daly Has Secured Some Racing Stability Through Sponsorship
Daly, who previously had the United States Air Force as his primary partner, ended the 2021 season with an uncertain racing future. The partnership with the US Air Force was no longer possible due to funding, so he needed another primary partner. Enter BitNile.com.
“I met [BitNile founder] Todd Ault about the end of 2021,” Daly added. “My relationship with the US Air Force was coming to an end. They were not able to get the funding to continue in IndyCar. But [I] met Todd Ault in Las Vegas for my 30th birthday, happened to have been able to set up a meeting with him there.
“He loves racing, had a lot of really cool stuff going on that he wanted to be involved with racing and get his businesses involved with racing and use that as a great marketing platform. So the relationship started there.”
The deal with BitNile.com led to a two-year deal with Ed Carpenter Racing and the most stability of Daly’s career. It also set up a unique new venture. They have partnered to launch BitNile, an immersive metaverse platform where users can experience 3D immersive games, shopping, entertainment, and community through web browsers.
For Daly, this new platform provides him with another opportunity to interact with fans. He has enjoyed in-person experiences and sessions on Twitch, but now he has another arena in which to spend time with his supporters.
“As a gamer and someone who loves technology, it’s kind of cool to be able to see what they’ve done with the metaverse and working on combining those experiences with real-life experiences,” Daly said. “You know, putting our Cup car and the IndyCar car in the metaverse to go and see and have a look at. And then hopefully, we offer experiences for people on BitNile to see the cars in real life.
“…I was on Twitch the other night just practicing for COTA, and I was like, ‘Hey, let’s just go to BitNile.com. Everyone in the chat right now can just jump in with me.’ It was cool.
“We’ll just jump into the dirt buggy, do some racing with some fans that support us on Twitch. And that’s the goal, right? You can just jump in there with me and just go racing or just walk around or chat or whatever it is.”
Daly Will Adjust His Approach for Part 2
The first part of the Texas two-step is complete, and Daly just needs to head to Texas Motor Speedway for the NTT IndyCar Series race. He will also have to adjust his mindset while facing off with 26 other competitors.
Daly just came from a Cup Series race where he had to use an elbows-out approach while driving the No. 50 TMT Racing Chevrolet Camaro. Aggressive driving and bumping doors were key parts of making moves at Circuit of the Americas. The IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway is more technical. Making contact is never a good thing, especially considering the stacked field.
“It’s definitely different,” Daly said. “It’s a completely different style, a lot less contact, for sure, at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend then there was at COTA. But it’s the top level of both motor racing arenas. You have the stock car racing arena, which is very different from the open-wheel IndyCar arena.
“We’ve got 27 cars in IndyCar right now, and all the teams are good. Every one is good. We’re all going after and trying to win. And it’s pretty impressive to see where the field is, where the series is right now.”
There are major differences between the IndyCar Series and Cup Series races. One fields a stock car with a gearshift and a steering wheel with a radio button. The other fields an open-wheel car with a steering wheel that looks like a handheld video game platform. There are buttons that control several things, including where the weight sits and speed on pit road.
“It does present a different challenge, but I respect that it is different,” Daly said. “So we have a lot of technology that we can use and it’s fascinating. and I hope that we get more. I hope that… the engine manufacturers are pushing so hard to just keep getting us the highest level of power with what we have. Our teams are doing everything we can to use all the technology that we’ve got to be the best we can possibly be.”