This has been one of the most frustrating seasons that Conor Daly has ever encountered in his racing career. After finally getting his full-time shot in the Verizon IndyCar Series last year, he dazzled with five top 10 finishes, all of which in the top six with one of them resulting in a second place run in the first dual at Belle Isle. He led laps in four of those events too, totaling 56 laps led overall.
On top of that, he got a rare opportunity to fill in for James Hinchcliffe for three races in 2015, in which he finished sixth in the second race at Belle Isle that year, even leading 12 laps in that race too. He also came home 12th at Toronto.
Even more, he got a last minute call up to drive for Dale Coyne Racing at Long Beach of that year where he started 21st and finished 17th despite virtually no practice. That was some of the best results Coyne had up until that point all year.
All those gave everyone hope that Daly was finally going to arrive on the scene in IndyCar. The bright future that we all knew he’d have if given the right opportunity was starting to come around.
Unfortunately, Dale Coyne Racing replaced Daly with Sebastien Bourdais and then moved the part-time driver car to a full-time driver in Ed Jones. Daly, was left out despite a strong year under his belt.
He’d land with AJ Foyt Racing, but the organization didn’t have all their ducks really in a row. They were a late switch from Honda to Chevrolet which put them behind the eight ball. Mix that with a new engineering staff working with two new drivers, and it would take time to gel.
Daly, didn’t get his first top 10 until nine races into the season at Texas. He’d finish seventh. Mechanical issues were a big part of his misfortunes which none of them were of his doing. His teammate Carlos Munoz was also suffering from similar situations.
But, both tested at Mid-Ohio in July and that’s where the turning point of the season occurred for them.
Since, Daly has finished 10th, 14th and fifth respectively, while Munoz grabbed a 10th place finish at Pocono and ninth last weekend at Gateway.
Now, he heads to Watkins Glen a place where he finished fourth last year. With this resurgence, maybe Daly can land another solid result.
“Obviously coming off St. Louis, we all are feeling good and I’m just excited to get back to work,” Daly said ahead of this weekend’s race. “Watkins Glen is one of the best tracks on the schedule and it provides some incredible speeds/racing. The aim for the weekend is just to continue developing our car setup and finding speed one tenth of a second (or more) at a time. Hopefully we can find ourselves in the top five again by the end of the weekend.”