INDIANAPOLIS – Conor Daly had his best season in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016 with Dale Coyne Racing. With five top six finishes in 16 starts, including being one of the top Honda drivers in laps led that season, Daly had a career year with one of the smaller teams in the INDYCAR Series paddock. Now, Daly gets another chance to drive for them.
Daly, 26, will drive a DCR car in the upcoming 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 as a third entrant with the team in the No. 17 Honda. But, the deal wouldn’t have happened if not for a new team in the series – Thom Burns Racing.
“I’ve followed Conor (Daly) well we had a common attorney,” Burns said of his engagement of Daly. “When the Air Force came in, they said we had to have an American driver and Conor was the first one that I thought of.”
As far as Daly, this will be his fourth straight Indy 500 opportunity and fifth in six years, four of which for different teams. While he did race for DCR exclusively two years ago, this one will be under the TBR banner with DCR’s resources.
Daly notes that he’s now 5-for-5 in Red, White and Blue colors on his Indy 500 cars.
Daly, started 31st and finished 22nd in his rookie start in the race in 2013 with AJ Foyt Racing. He’d come back in 2015 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, starting 23rd in the race but seeing a mechanical issue occur before the green flag even waved. He’d finish last in 33rd as a result. Then, in that 2016 race, Daly started 24th and finished 29th after getting collected in a Turn 2 accident with Mikhail Aleshin. Last year, he returned to Foyt as he started 26th and finished 30th after crashing out in Turn 3.
He thought though he was going to be returning to Foyt for the 2018 season, but while he was away taping “The Amazing Race” Foyt decided to go in a completely new direction. Gone were Daly and his teammate Carlos Munoz and in came Tony Kanaan and rookie Matheus Leist. Since he had no contact back here in the United States while he was filming, he had no clue he was going to be unemployed upon his arrival. Plus, he had very little time to find the budget that it would take to get in either Ed Carpenter Racing’s part-time seat or the seat he had with DCR two years ago. So, his focus went to finding a ‘500 seat instead.
Now he’s found it.
The team will be funded by the US Air Force as the military branch will have a huge presence at the track during Memorial Day weekend.
TBR is the fifth new team to come to the series in 2018. They’ll join Juncos Racing, Michael Shank Racing, Carlin and Harding Racing at Indy. With five new teams in 2018 and numerous new sponsorships, it’s fair to say that the series is growing at a rapid pace. That’s a very good thing.