Conor Daly (in above photograph) will return to the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Okla., for the second year in a row, and this time NTT IndyCar Series regular Santino Ferrucci (shown in insert) and five-time Indianapolis 500 starter James Davison (pictured at the bottom) will join him in getting their first taste of the famed event to be held Jan. 13-18 at the Tulsa Expo Raceway.
The three NTT IndyCar Series drivers will be part of team owner David Byrd’s attack. Byrd’s partner in the team is Scott Petry, whose company built the dirt track in Turn 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This will be the 34th time the Chili Bowl Nationals have been held.
Daly is ready to build on what he learned a year ago.
“After last year, I just started to get the hang of it by the end of the main event that I was in, but I wanted to get back there immediately,” Daly told NTT INDYCAR Mobile on Monday.
“I’m excited. Scott Petry has done and incredible job allowing me to be part of the team with some really good teammates. It’s going to be fun.”
Daly is another example of the current generation of race drivers that aren’t afraid to try different forms of racing. This followed a long period where drivers seldom ventured outside of their skillset to try a different type of racing.
Drivers such as Alexander Rossi have competed in the Baja 1000, the Bathurst 1000 and the Rolex 24 at Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring events. Daly, who made his USAC Midget debut in 2018 in the BC39 at the Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, attempted the Chili Bowl Nationals last year. He also competed in a USAC national midget doubleheader earlier this month at Arizona Speedway, advancing to the featured event both nights.
Davison, who partnered with Byrd for a start in this year's Indianapolis 500, made his Silver Crown debut earlier this year at Salem (Ind.) Speedway, and Ferrucci joined Davison in recently testing a sprint car at Canyon (Ariz.) Speedway.
"I think it’s really important,” Daly said of trying different forms of motorsports. “We see that our fan bases are dedicated to a particular genre of racing. It’s the same with dirt racing. In my mind, I appreciate all forms of racing, but there are some people that are tied emotionally to their form of motorsport. To get out there a little bit and do more, hopefully helps the sport in general.
“I have met a lot of great people in the dirt racing world. I would like to see more and more comradery and see other drivers try different forms of motorsports.
“I just want to drive anything. I’m on this Earth to be a competitive racing driver. That is what I want to do. I’m going to do whatever I can do and whatever my current employer, Ed Carpenter, will allow me to do."
The Chili Bowl Nationals has become an “All-Star Event” that kicks off the racing season every January.
“To watch Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe run in those cars on the dirt is electric,” Daly said. “That is their ‘bread-and-butter.’ For James Davison and Santino Ferrucci and myself, this is a very different form of racing for us. It’s a big step outside of our comfort zone.
“To see us at the ground level of trying to do something new is different and I hope the fans appreciate that.”
Daly expects Ferrucci to have his eyes wide open when he attempts the Chili Bowl for the first time.
“Good for him to take the challenge,” Daly said. “It’s all thanks to David Byrd. He keeps telling me to let him know which IndyCar drivers want to try it and he will make it happen.
“It’s cool to see some people doing it and hopefully in the future, we can see more and more of that.
“The Byrd family has been part of the Indy 500 for a long time. It’s great to see them heavily involved in the sport. It’s an historic name in the sport and it’s great to see them continue, too.”