With a very full head of hair, Conor Daly still seeking a full schedule in IndyCar

IndyCar
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He has only one NASCAR race on his schedule, but Conor Daly showed up to an NTT IndyCar Series preseason media availability with a full-on stock-car head of hair.

Sporting a styled mullet that would have put Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Noah Gragson to shame, Daly said he had used “realistically enough hairspray to set a house on fire, but I’m excited about it either way.

It’s not always going to look like this. For today, we’re just going to let it eat and have a great time.

“Josef Newgarden even said to me this morning, ‘Wow, you look good.’ As a man who had to grow up going up against Josef Newgarden, not only in the driving category but also the looks category, because that guy is just a finely tuned specimen, he just looks like a Greek god, it’s impressive to hear that from him, so I feel pretty good about it.”

Newgarden, the two-time IndyCar champion, confirmed that Daly “looked amazing,” estimating with a laugh that it took at least three cans of hairspray.

“It’s not for me, but it fits him,” he said. “At this point he’s built a brand, OK? I think he should own it, which he clearly is. You show up with that type of a haircut, he is on brand for Conor Daly. That was professionally done. He went to a hairdresser this morning and got that done up. I admire the level of commitment he has for his brand. Good for him. He is a very committed person.

“I think Conor probably gets a bad rap at times. From a personal note, I’ve known Conor since he was a young kid. We grew up together racing karts. He’s a super talented individual. He does work very hard and tries to get the most out of himself and out of situations that he’s in. Don’t be deceived by this brand that he’s got going on around him.”

Indeed, the merry prankster also is among the most traveled drivers in IndyCar. Daly had to hustle from his media obligations Thursday in Indianapolis to Las Vegas. On Friday night, he will be racing with Niece Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he finished 18th in his truck debut last Sept. 25.

IndyCar Iowa Speedway qualifying
Conor Daly after winning a pole position last year at Iowa Speedway (IndyCar).

He would like to add more races – including possibly the Xfinity race during the August NASCAR-IndyCar crossover weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – but “IndyCar for sure is the focus” for now. Vegas was a late add after the IndyCar season opener was rescheduled from this weekend.

“I want to race everything, everywhere, anytime,” he said. “I got to keep myself busy. I got to get the body rolling into race mode.”

After a breakout season in which he became a mega iRacing and Twitch personality while also enjoying success on track with his first IndyCar pole, Daly still is trying to nail down three more IndyCar races this season. He is slated to run the 13 road and street courses, plus the Indianapolis 500, for ECR in the No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet.

“If I was a betting man, yes,” Daly said when asked if he’d run the full year. “I would enjoy doing the whole season. I think it’s possible. But it’s not up to me. … It’s a financial game. Obviously we need to have certain things to make certain things happen. Right now it’s the best situation possible for me and the U.S. Air Force. … To be honest, I would actually like more ovals on the schedule. If I can organize another program to end up doing the full season, it all fits really well.”

In the meantime, there could be more NASCAR races, but he will need help without having any sponsorship attached. Action sports star Travis Pastrana, who became a buddy through iRacing last year, helped set up Daly’s Vegas truck start last year.

“I don’t think anyone is just going to take a chance and say, ‘Hey, we like your hair, jump in this Xfinity car,’ “ Daly said. “We’ll see. Physically it’s going to be hard to do both (IndyCar and NASCAR at Indy) in the same weekend, that’s tough. But I’m a yes man. I learned that from saying yes to Travis Pastrana; anytime he asks you to do something you always say yes. I’m not a no man.”

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2