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Harding confirms Daly for Pocono

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Harding Racing confirmed earlier on Wednesday that Conor Daly will join the team as the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 from Pocono Raceway (1:30 p.m., NBCSN).

Daly previously contested the Honda Indy Toronto and the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio with the Harding squad, and Pocono will be his third consecutive race with the team.

“Having the chance to race at Pocono is really exciting for me, because it means as a team we’ll have had a chance to race at a road course, street course and superspeedway together,” Daly expressed in a team announcement.

He added, “It’ll be a new challenge for us to work through, and I can’t wait for it. Thankfully, after competing at the Indy 500 this year, I have some experience with the superspeedway aero package which gives me some more confidence heading into the weekend. The Chevrolet engine was obviously very strong at Indy, so I look forward to working with them alongside the Harding Racing boys yet again this year.”

Team president Brian Barnhart echoed Daly’s sentiments, adding that the team has seen good progress in recent weeks as it continues to evaluate driver options for the 2019 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

“Harding Racing feels our second half of the season program has generated considerable benefits for us,” said Barnhart. “We’re going to continue that at Pocono Raceway in an effort to make sure that Conor had an opportunity to participate on all the disciplines that are included in the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. We would have done a street circuit, a permanent road course, and now a superspeedway with Conor when he runs at Pocono, and getting the feedback from him with each of those types of tracks is important for our future.”

Daly is also slated to make his NASCAR debut next weekend, in the Xfinity Series Johnsonville 180 with Roush Fenway Racing – he’ll drive the No. 6 Ford Mustang in a third entry for the team.

Given that the event will conflict with the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 from Gateway Motorsports Park (August 25, 8:00 p.m. on NBCSN), Harding will need to draft in a new driver for Gateway. Details about who will drive for them that weekend and beyond will be revealed at a later date.

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Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew ready for IndyCar ride

Road to Indy
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Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew has done nothing but dominate the 2019 season, winning seven of the 16 races run so far and finishing on the podium in all but two of those events.

Now all the 22-year-old Floridian needs to do to formally clinch the 2019 title is simply start the final two races of the season, both of which will be held this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

For Askew, his maiden Indy Lights season will likely be one he’ll never forget. 

“It’s been a dream come true,” Askew told NBC Sports. “Being with the championship-winning team from last year, we had a really good shot at winning it again for Andretti Autosport. It’s very rare that we show up to a track and struggle to find speed. 

“That’s a fantastic feeling, especially as a driver. That gave me a lot of confidence and hopes of holding the million dollar check at the end of the year. That was the goal going into it.”

This weekend, Askew will accomplish said goal. The championship will not only bring him a sense of pride, but also the opportunity of a lifetime. 

As an award for being crowned the Indy Lights champion, Askew will be awarded a scholarship that guarantees him entry into a minimum of three NTT IndyCar Series events next year – including the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. 

Time will only tell which team Askew will race for in IndyCar next season, and whether or not Askew’s rookie campaign will be a full-time or part-time affair, but Askew’s performance during the last few seasons in the Road to Indy system has certainly drawn attention of IndyCar’s top team owners.

In August, Askew had the chance to drive an Indy car for the first time in his career during a test session at Portland International Raceway, driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda usually piloted by Scott Dixon.

“It was an opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing that I was very fortunate to have,” Askew said. “I think with my experience in the past couple of years with Cape Motorsports and this year with Andretti Autosport, going into that test was very helpful.

“Going into the test, it was more of trying to treat it as just another day at the racetrack, when it really wasn’t. It was a fantastic opportunity for me – a great experience – and I hope I can take that into my rookie season next year in IndyCar.” 

The final two races of the 2019 Indy Lights season will take place this weekend on Saturday, September 21 at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday, September 22 at 12:05 p.m. ET. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

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