The Izod IndyCar Series landed another huge gain today as A.J. Foyt Racing and 21-year old Conor Daly announced they would partner for this May’s Indianapolis 500.
Daly is the son of former IndyCar and Formula One driver Derrick Daly and has shown tons of promise as he’s worked his way up through the ranks of open wheel racing.
Despite growing up in nearby Noblesville, Indiana, Daly’s path was heading towards a full-time Formula One ride. He raced in Europe the last two seasons with moving his way up through the ranks and turning heads overseas. He did lose his ride at the end of last season and came back to the United States to search for possibly coming to the Izod IndyCar Series.
Daly raced two years in Star Mazda and five races in the Firestone Indy Lights Series’ in 2009-2011. He won the Star Mazda championship in 2010 with winning seven races and nine poles in the 13 race season. He finished second in his FIL debut at St. Petesburg in 2011 and won two races later at Long Beach.
“I almost can’t describe what it means to have the opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500,” said Daly. “I am so thankful that A.J. and (team director) Larry (Foyt) have given me my first shot at the greatest race in the world. I know this will sound cheesy but I’ve never been happier in my life; this race means so much to me.”
After earning a test in A.J. Foyt’s IndyCar at Sebring in December many said he should have a full-time ride. He was very fast and showed great car control.
At the time Foyt had Takuma Sato driving full-time in the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Honda for the 2013 season and had a Honda development driver Chase Austin slated to drive the No. 41 Honda at Indy. Austin didn’t have much open wheel experience and worried many within the paddock of whether he was actually qualified.
The funding and deal fell through last month and that No. 41 Honda seat came open again. Many speculated that Daly would indeed get this ride but it wasn’t announced until today.
“He ran well at Sebring when we needed someone to do some testing in the offseason,” said A.J. Foyt, the first four-time Indianapolis 500 champion. “He was fast, smooth, and didn’t get in trouble. When we made a change on the car he felt it. I found him to be very savvy on the chassis setups. In fact, when we made a minor change which was really nothing, he thought about it and said it felt no different. I told him that was the right answer because we didn’t do anything he’d be able to feel, so that impressed me, too.
“I’ve run a lot of rookies at Indy and I think Conor will do a good job for us.”
Now the series will have four rookies at Rookie Orientation for next month’s events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 11th around the famed 2.5-mile oval. Daly will join A.J. Allmendinger, Carlos Munoz and Tristian Vautier in the test to get them up to speed for opening day on May 11th.
The announcement of Daly gives 28 car/driver combinations for next month’s 33 car field. There’s a very good chance we will see bumping this year as the entry-list is expected to surpass the 33-car field size.
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