If James Davison’s run last year at the Indy 500 proves to be his last, the Australian will be content with his career in open-wheel racing. Having competed for Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing and Byrd/Belardi in the 2020 event where the No. 51 Honda was the first car to exit the race, Davison was faced with an opportunity to return to Indy at the expense of contesting an expanded NASCAR Cup calendar.
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Left to choose where the majority of his sponsorship dollars should be apportioned, the 34-year-old picked stock car racing as the arena to fully invest his efforts.
“It was either doing the Indy 500 again as a one-off drive, or doing 26 Cup races this season, and I truly love what I’ve been doing in NASCAR, so that’s where my decision went,” Davison told RACER. “And we have conflicts with Charlotte, COTA, and Indy, so we’ll do the Cup races.
“It saddens me, but look, I’ve done the Indy 500 six times, led the race, and I’ve put over 15 years of my life into trying to make it in IndyCar. And I’ve got to be realistic: I’ve made eight IndyCar starts since 2013, and six of those were at Indy, so I’m not really in the running to do more races outside of the 500. It’s been a blast, and there also comes a time when a new generation of drivers come along like Colton Herta and Pato [O’Ward], and it’s their time now.”
In addition to his Indy 500 outing with DCR and RWR+Byrd/Belardi, Davison made his Cup debut for RWR with support from Byrd Racing, and sees NASCAR as an organization where he might be able to make a lasting home.
“I went into those races last year with no testing, no laps in the car, and it was a total immersion into a new type of racing for me, but I loved every minute of it and think we can do a lot more there with Rick Ware Racing,” he said. “I really mean it when I say that IndyCar, Indy Lights and all the ladder series I was in were amazing, and we did a lot quite often with not a lot of funding. If this ends up being the end of things for me in IndyCar, I can feel proud for what we achieved with what we had.”
As things stand, I won’t be returning to the Indy 500 this year.
I have a fantastic opportunity to run 26 races in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series, with COTA and Coke 600 clashing with Indianapolis.
I’ve found a home here in NASCAR that I’m really enjoying and want to make work. pic.twitter.com/Pw9qSOIQjZ
— James Davison (@JD33Davison) April 5, 2021
Prior to Davison’s announcement, he was expected to be part of DCR’s Indy 500 lineup. The team has not announced who will join Ed Jones and Pietro Fittipaldi for the May 30 race. NASCAR and sports car driver Cody Ware, son of DCR with RWR co-entrant Rick Ware, completed his first rookie oval evaluation last Thursday at Texas Motor Speedway and is expected to participate in Rookie Orientation Program later this week at Indianapolis.