Sports car racer and Indianapolis 500 veteran James Davison will enter his first NASCAR oval race this Sunday at Talladega. The 33-year-old Australian racer will join the Spire Motorsports team for a one-off event in his first ever trip to Talladega Motor Speedway. In a normal season this wouldn’t really be worthy of discussion, but this Sunday’s race will happen without any practice or qualifying sessions. Davison will get into the car for the first time on Sunday at 3PM Eastern to run the Geico 500. Nothing like trial by fire, right?
The original weekend schedule included a practice session on Saturday prior to the race. On Saturday of last week, NASCAR officials cancelled that session in an effort to reduce unnecessary contact between teams and drivers. Qualifying was already planned to be scrapped in favor of starting positions based on driver points standings. That means Davison, who obviously has no points, will be starting from the back. It also means that the team had really better nail the car’s setup as Davison won’t have any idea whether the car is dialed in or not until he’s well embroiled in the thick of it.
Davison has driven a NASCAR stock car in the past, running four races in the Xfinity series, all on road courses at either Road America or Mid Ohio. It was announced late last year that he would make his Cup series debut during the Daytona 500 with Hayward Motorsports but when it came time to race neither he nor the team were on the entry list.
Davison is no slouch behind the wheel. The guy has raced as a factory entry for Aston Martin and Nissan in GT3 class machinery in the past, and has entered the previous five Indy 500 races, finishing a personal best of 12th in 2019. He’s got a bit of experience in oval racing and a bit of experience in NASCAR stock cars, but he’s never driven a NASCAR stock car on an oval before.
Over on Twitter NASCAR driver and friend of the site Parker Kligerman exhibited some astonishment at the series of events that led to Davison’s start. Luckily Davison himself responded with a level-headed and even-keeled attitude about the whole thing. It doesn’t seem likely that he’ll finish even in the top half, but it’s a start. Survival is the name of the game for this racer who is diving head first into something totally new.
I’ve always felt like I do pretty well in situations when I’m placed under immense pressure, but even this would be far too much for me. I wish Mr. Davison luck and hope he comes out the other side unscathed. At this point I think that’s all he can really hope for.