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

James Davison Indy NASCAR
James Black/IndyCar

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).

Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

Larson High Limit Eagle
High Limit Racing - Twitter

It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway