INDIANAPOLIS – One thing is certain: Pat McAfee will not be anywhere near Conor Daly’s pit on race day for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Other than that, the Indianapolis Colts punter is all in with his newly formed company, ShirtsForAmerica.com, and its sponsorship of Daly’s No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda for the epic event.
McAfee, Daly and team owner Dale Coyne announced the primary sponsorship today. McAfee’s goal is two-fold in trying to help the talented native Indiana driver and a pair of military foundations. For each T-shirt sold on the site, a portion of the proceeds goes to Wish For Our Heroes – founded by military veterans to help veterans – and the Pat McAfee Foundation that has given more than $150,000 in scholarships to children of military families.
“I saw it as an opportunity not only to help an Indianapolis (area) kid run in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, but also as a chance to raise money for a couple of military foundations,” McAfee said.
McAfee has become a huge Indianapolis 500 fan since being drafted by the Colts in 2009 and was the honorary pace car driver for the 2015 Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. McAfee admitted he spends most race days socializing with friends and that he will be in a suite this May 29 cheering on Daly. But in true Joe Namath/Super Bowl style, the blossoming comedian also “guaranteed” Daly would win the race.
“That may be a lot pressure for Conor, but I really don’t (care),” McAfee said amid laughter from Daly and Coyne. “I don’t have to drive a car. I’m excited. I think Conor is an incredible talent. Anyone who knows driving knows he’s an incredible talent. This is an incredible opportunity that could happen.”
Daly has a full-season ride with Coyne but lacked sponsorship for the Indy 500. The car will be liveried in the red, white and blue ShirtsForAmerica.com colors in time for practice Thursday.
“I’m a proud American, Pat is a tremendous American and we’re going to have a great time representing America for this whole month,” said Daly, the 24-year-old son of former Indy car and Formula One driver Derek Daly who will make his third Indy 500 start this year. “I can’t thank him enough for coming on board.”
Team owner Coyne, who once had legendary NFL running back Walter Payton as a team co-owner, was pleased with the McAfee affiliation. It adds another charitable effort to the team’s four-car effort. Gabby Chaves is driving the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America entry, Pippa Mann is in the No. 63 Susan G. Komen car and Bryan Clauson has an affiliation with Cancer Treatment Centers of America through his Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality sponsorship in the No. 88 Honda.
“We’re very happy with the whole program,” Coyne said. “It’s kind of cause marketing and three of our four cars are doing that with the Komen car for breast cancer, the Boy Scouts car and this one for veterans. It’s a fantastic thing for us.”
Watch the hilarious news conference announcing the sponsorship here: