Conor Daly to make Cup debut at Roval with Mayweather's team
By JENNA FRYER
(AP) -- Conor Daly ended the 2021 IndyCar season without a job and unsure where his racing career was headed. Just about a year later, he's brought a new sponsor to motorsports that not only shored up Daly's future but now has him prepared to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut.
Daly will enter his first career Cup race next week on The Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he'll drive for The Money Team Racing.
The No. 50 Chevrolet is owned by retired boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and will be sponsored by BitNile Holdings, Inc., a a diversified holding company Daly persuaded to back an IndyCar program over cocktails in Las Vegas.
BitNile agreed to a multiyear deal to sponsor Daly in IndyCar for Ed Carpenter Racing and has so enjoyed its first season that executive chairman Todd Ault approached Daly after the Laguna Seca season finale to see if he was interested in running a Cup race.
Was he ever.
"I've always lived a life of you never know what's going to happen tomorrow and there's a lot of crazy things that have happened in my career for sure," Daly told The Associated Press. "But realistically, I have a guy behind me in Todd Ault and everyone at BitNile that are truly, truly enjoying the motorsports business and what it does for them.
"And as a driver, that's your dream. Look at (NASCAR driver) Aric Almirola and (sponsor) Smithfield. Those guys would go to bat for Almirola every time. This is obviously Year One of my relationship with BitNile, but it is providing me an opportunity that I have never had before."
Daly was in Charlotte, North Carolina, this week first for a seat fitting and then a Friday session in the Chevrolet simulator. It will be the fourth race for Mayweather's upstart team, which used driver Kaz Grala in the Daytona 500, at Circuit of the Americas and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Grala finished a season-best 23rd on Charlotte's oval and has not finished lower than 26th.
Daly made one Xfinity Series start in 2018, followed by one Truck Series start in 2020 and again in 2021. He just completed his eighth season in IndyCar and the most stable year of his career. The 30-year-old Indianapolis native had pieced together partial schedules and seasons split among teams before BitNile funded a full 17-race program for him at Carpenter.
Mayweather, meanwhile, has yet to make an official appearance at the track and his new NASCAR team has fallen short of early season-predictions to run upwards of 15 races. He said in a statement that Daly's entry at The Roval is part of TMT's growth.
"We've come a long way in a short amount of time and I know that the future is very bright for us," Mayweather said. "With hard work and dedication, we're going to continue to climb the ladder in this sport. This is an exciting step and I can't wait to see what's next."
More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Updated September 29, 2022