After over five years, Conor Daly will make his return to the NASCAR Xfinity Series in a very familiar location when he enters the Pennzoil 150 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on 12 August, driving the #44 Chevrolet Camaro for Alpha Prime Racing.
Daly ran his first and only Xfinity race in 2018 at Road America, where he retired with a suspension failure and was classified thirty-first for what is now RFK Racing. The start was also his début in NASCAR, but he would not return to stock cars until 2020 as a part-timer in the Truck Series. Since 2022, Daly has raced sporadically in the Cup Series which included making the 2023 Daytona 500 and finishing eighteenth in the Truck race at Mid-Ohio in July.
Indianapolis is Daly’s home track and one on which he has extensive experience in the NTT IndyCar Series, having made ten starts at the Indianapolis 500. In May, a fortnight before the 500, he finished nineteenth on the infield road course layout at the GMR Grand Prix.
Prior to the Daytona 500, Daly told The Checkered Flag he envisioned running both IndyCar and NASCAR when the series joined forces for the August weekend on the road course, with IndyCar racing the Gallagher Grand Prix on Saturday and the Cup Series racing the Verizon 200 on Sunday. However, he abruptly lost his IndyCar ride with Ed Carpenter Racing in June. Since then, Daly has been a substitute driver for the injured Simon Pagenaud at Meyer Shank Racing, though reigning Indy NXT champion Linus Lundqvist will fill in for Nashville on Sunday and the latter’s recovery timetable for Indy is uncertain.
If Daly was still a full-time IndyCar driver, it is unlikely he would run the Pennzoil 150 as it takes place immediately after the Gallagher Grand Prix. COTA in March also ended up being his final scheduled Cup start of 2023, where he finished thirty-sixth with a transmission problem.
Outside of NASCAR and IndyCar, Daly entered the Nitrocross season opener at MidAmerica Outdoors in June, where he placed eighth in the top-level Group E class.
Alpha Prime’s #44 is thirty-sixth in owner points with Rajah Caruth, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Dylan Lupton, Mason Massey, Brad Pérez, Greg Van Alst, and fellow IndyCar veteran Sage Karam splitting time in the car. Earnhardt holds its best run to date of eighteenth at Richmond.