While a full-time Verizon IndyCar Series seat is currently out of reach for Conor Daly, a ride for the month of May is more realistic.
The 26-year-old from Noblesville, Indiana, is focused on racing in the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. The INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, where Daly led 14 laps and finished sixth in 2016, is also on his radar if he can raise the funding.
“It’s a lot of money and a long month,” Daly said. “Ideally, I’d love to do the grand prix, too, because that’s a race that we’ve been close to winning as well. Obviously, the 500 is the main thing that we’ve got to raise money for.”
The co-star of Team INDYCAR with Alexander Rossi on CBS’ “The Amazing Race” didn’t land a full-time ride for the 2018 season after being released by AJ Foyt Racing at the end of 2017.
Daly said the most disappointing part of losing his ride was that the team was unable to build on progress made at the end of last year, which included a fifth place at the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park.
“There was a lot of effort put in on the engineering side as drivers to give information to make the car go faster,” he said. “I’m sure that now, it’s just tough to see because you would like to have been able to reap the rewards of the work that you put in. It is what it is, this sport is a business and I understand and I’m cool with it.”
The 2010 Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires champion noted that, while the struggle is like 2015 when he first sought a full-time ride, it is more frustrating this time around.
“It’s certainly a different feeling having been full time for two years than in 2015 when I didn’t have a full-time ride yet,” said Daly, who drove a full season for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 before joining the Foyt team last year.
“Now that I’ve been in it, I’ve put in the work and, now that I’m out of it, it’s brutal,” he said. “It’s not something that I dwell on because I see what’s going on here, I need to be back in it. I just have to try and put the financial pieces together to make it happen.”
Daly’s best finish in 40 starts was second place in the second race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear in 2016. He did have three top-10s in the final five races with Foyt last season.
“It takes a lot to sustain yourself in this sport with incredible talents,” he said. “I do feel like you’re easily forgotten – almost too easily forgotten. It’s tough to see that because I feel like I’ve put in a lot of effort to work hard at this sport.
“I hope to finally prove to people by standing on top of a podium instead of a second place and saying, ‘This is what I want to do with my life and this is what I’m dedicated to.’”
A return to Dale Coyne Racing for the Indy 500 is a possibility. Daly pointed to their previous success together in 2016 and the team’s pace at Indianapolis last year, when rookie Ed Jones placed third and Sebastien Bourdais was fastest until a qualifying attempt crash sidelined him.
“I know the Coyne guys really well,” Daly said. “I love Dale, I love their engineering squad, they were nearly on pole last year, their cars were flying. I would love to try and organize a deal with Dale if we can, but we just have to work through things.”
For team owner Dale Coyne, the feeling is mutual. He said the team plans to expand to four cars for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” adding that Daly is under consideration.
“Conor is in there, for sure,” Coyne said. “I love him to pieces. He always raced very solidly. I think we can do great things this year.
“He got fifth at Gateway last year, his oval experience has gotten better. If you give him a good car, I think he can run up front.”