Notes: Daly returning to midget racing for Chili Bowl

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Verizon IndyCar Series driver Conor Daly enjoyed his first midget race so much that he’s signed up for two more – including the prestigious Chili Bowl in January.

The veteran of 43 INDYCAR starts made his midget debut in September, at the Driven2SaveLives BC39 presented by NOS Energy Drink on the specially constructed track inside Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

With backing this time from long-time racing supporter Jonathan Byrd’s Racing, Daly will run an indoor dirt race Dec. 15 at DuQuoin, Illinois, before taking on the massively popular Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from Jan. 14-19.

“I got a taste last September at IMS, and the Chili Bowl is such a cool event and I want to try it,” Daly told Robin Miller of RACER.com. “I don’t have any great expectations, but I liked trying the dirt and I’ll get some laps at DuQuoin before the Chili Bowl, so that will help.”

David Byrd, who handles the Byrd racing program named for his late father, is excited for the opportunity to get Daly into a car as well.

“To step out of your comfort zone and try the dirt shows me he’s a racer,” Byrd said of Daly. “We’re renting a car from Jody Rosenboom of Iowa, and it’s a good car for a beginner, and hopefully Conor can get 30-40 laps under his belt at DuQuoin.”

Looks like I’m going dirt racing again. Getting #ChiliBowl ready 🇺🇸 can’t wait! https://t.co/hxDLMpZwfk

Two heroes available to meet soon at IMS Museum

Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power and Santa Claus will both be available in the coming week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum located inside the famous racetrack.

Power will unveil his likeness on the Borg-Warner Trophy at 5 p.m. ET Wednesday. The Australian became the 17th Team Penske winner of the great race in May. This event is open to the public with paid admission to the museum.

Santa will visit the museum each of the next two Sundays (Dec. 2 and Dec. 9) for a limited-edition photo opportunity for children and holiday activities for families. The special event runs from 4:30-6 p.m. ET both Sundays, with Santa donning a custom "Speedway Santa" firesuit and a holiday-themed Indy car on site. The event is free to attend, and children can visit Santa for a special photo available for purchase.

Other activities include writing letters to Santa, coloring stations, and appearances by IndyCar Series drivers. Hot chocolate, coffee and treats also will be available for purchase.

Lastochkin lands Pro Mazda ride with Exclusive Autosport

Exclusive Autosport confirmed that Russia’s Nikita Lastochkin will be one of its drivers for the 2019 Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires season. It will mark Lastochkin’s third year in the middle rung of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, following two seasons in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.

“I am thrilled to welcome Nikita to the Exclusive Autosport Pro Mazda program,” said Michael Duncalfe, team principal. “Nikita’s experience in the Road to Indy and maturity are great assets to the EA program. Overall, Nikita is a great fit with the Exclusive Autosport team. We are looking forward to a very positive and successful year with him in Pro Mazda.”

Lastochkin finished fifth in the 2017 Pro Mazda standings and ninth this year.

“I’m extremely excited to come into the season and join Exclusive Autosport,” Lastochkin said. “From the testing we’ve completed so far, the car feels very quick and suits my driving style well. Michael has been very welcoming and helped me feel at home right away, and I think we are going to have a great year ahead of us.”

Branded Indy cars welcome Big Ten teams to Indy

In what has become an annual tradition welcoming the competing teams for the Big Ten Conference football championship to Indianapolis, the buses for each team were escorted into the city by street-legal Indy cars branded with the logos of the respective universities.

Ohio State and Northwestern will play for the conference title Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Northwestern Wildcats Two-Seater

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