James Davison is not making his NASCAR Cup Series debut on Sunday.
Davison was announced as the driver of the No. 77 car for Sunday’s race at Talladega earlier in the week and his name appeared on the NASCAR entry list. It was a perplexing entry, to say the least. While Davison has raced in multiple Indianapolis 500s and races in IMSA, NASCAR’s sports car racing sister, he’s never raced on an oval in NASCAR.
Without practice and qualifying for Sunday’s race because of the coronavirus pandemic, the first lap of the race would be Davison’s first lap at Talladega in a Cup Series car.
Yeah, you can see how that’s not the greatest of ideas. And on Thursday, Davison said in a team statement that he wouldn’t be driving the car on Sunday.
"I have been contacted by NASCAR and informed that although I was previously approved to race, they had to reconsider their position on superspeedways, given there won’t be practice or qualifying prior to Sunday’s race at Talladega," Davison said in a Spire Motorsports statement. "I was pumped about the opportunity to take the green flag, but I fully understand and appreciate NASCAR’s position. I’m approved to race next weekend at Pocono and equally thrilled to make my series debut there."
Entry lists are gathered in the weeks before races and NASCAR has run its season since resuming racing on May 17 without practices or qualifying. NASCAR should have prevented him from running at Talladega long before the entry list came out and avoided a scenario where many NASCAR fans wondered why the sanctioning body would approve a driver to race at Talladega with just four Xfinity Series road course races worth of NASCAR experience.
The same reasoning can apply to Pocono too, though NASCAR apparently thinks his IndyCar and sports car experience is enough to pre-approve him for the 2.5-mile triangle without a single lap of practice or qualifying.
B.J. McLeod will race the No. 77 in Davison’s place. The No. 77 car — driven by Justin Haley — won the 2019 July race at Daytona thanks to a fluke lightning strike. It’s going to take another fluky lightning strike or a confluence of extremely rare events for the weekly backmarker car to have a chance of winning on Sunday.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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