James Davison’s Indy performance will determine if he races Daytona

James Davison Indy NASCAR
James Black/IndyCar
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UPDATE: Rick Ware Racing tweeted Saturday afternoon that Davison was heading to Daytona

James Davison said it’s “a little bit of a TBD” on whether he will race in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at the Daytona International Speedway road course after qualifying Saturday for the Indy 500.

Davison is locked into the field of 33 cars that will race Aug. 23 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET, NBC, 2:30 p.m. green flag), but the Australian said the Saturday performance of his Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing entry will determine whether he hops a flight Saturday night to Florida after Indy 500 qualifying ends at 5 p.m. ET.

Though Davison, who is 22nd in the qualifying order, is highly unlikely to make the Fast Nine qualifying session Sunday, there also will be a 3:30-6 p.m. ET practice that will be critical in tuning up for the Indy 500.

INDY 500 QUALIFYING: Details for following today’s time trials

The Cup race will begin at 3 p.m. ET (NBC) in Daytona Beach, Florida. Because Davison shares a sponsor (Jacob Construction/Byrd) and car owner Ware across his IndyCar and NASCAR teams, the Indy 500 preparation can take precedence over NASCAR in the schedule conflict.

“We want to make sure there’s not too much opportunity cost by missing the practice here on Sunday with how challenging the cars have been to get to handle in race trim,” Davison told NBC Sports in an interview Friday at the Brickyard. “So with the same owners and sponsors involved in the Indy 500 and NASCAR program, we can make an executive decision to prioritize the Indy 500 over the Cup race when I’m going to be doing a number of more Cup races this year.

James Davison Indy NASCAR
James Davison at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Joe Skibinski/IndyCar).

“I would like to do both, but we just need to look at the opportunity cost. Also the way the (weather) forecast will come into it.”

After qualifying Saturday toward the bottom of the chart through the first two dozen cars, Davison said he still was unsure if he’d race at Datyona.

“I want to. I really want to,” Davison told NBC Sports Gold pit reporter Kelli Stavast. “We’ve got a bit of a decision to make. I have no idea. Probably going to know in the next couple of hours.”

A Rick Ware Racing spokesperson told NBC Sports that Reed Sorenson will be on standby to race its No. 51 Ford at Daytona, but the team is optimistic about having Davison in the car.

Davison, 33, will be racing in his sixth Indy 500 (he qualified 15th and finished a career-best 12th for Coyne last year). He made his Cup debut with the Pocono Raceway doubleheader weekend June 27-28. He since has raced with Ware at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and last weekend’s races at Michigan International Speedway.

In every case, the first lap he took on the track was under green with NASCAR eliminating practice and qualifying for nearly all races since returning during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“I’d never driven those cars on an oval and never driven at any of those tracks in my life,” Davison said. “It’s honestly like (Cup drivers) coming and doing an IndyCar race, and they’d never driven the car or track before, taking the green flag. That’s what I’ve been doing. It’s not certainly something I’d choose over the norm, but it just is what it is, and I’ve gotten on with it.”

Though it won’t be the traditional “double” of running the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, Davison still hopes to be able to qualify for the Indy 500 and race in the Cup Series on consecutive days “because it’s something I’ll look back on when I’m older and just say, ‘Look, I really gave life my best shot and got out of bed and challenged myself and jumped from one race car to the other in the two biggest sporting leagues in the U.S.’

“Something pretty amazing. I do hope I can do it because I love racing and love challenging myself.”

Davison’s No. 51 Dallara-Honda was 26th fastest Friday with a 229.766 mph lap. He is wearing a “Top Gun”-themed Maverick helmet at Indy.

“It’s been a solid run so far,” he said. “We’re running solid in the pack in race trim. We just need to get it to handle so we can stay in the gas for a longer percentage of the lap, and it’s a big challenge for everyone. And I feel the aeroscreen has made it even tougher with the added load on the right-front tire. I can feel it give up maybe 20 percent sooner.

“Based off last year, how we qualified 15th and knowing what a great job Dale Coyne Racing at Indy, even if there were 36 entries, I don’t think I’d be too stressed. Last year was a really great feeling and achievement for our third entry to qualify as high as we did. Not a whole lot has changed since then obviously. I think we’re in good shape to just be competitive at this stage. We’re nothing special, but we’re certainly not below average.”

James Davison Indy NASCAR
James Davison was 26th fastest Friday in Indy 500 practice (Chris Jones/IndyCar).

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III