By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
After a challenging practice and qualifying day for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600, Conor Daly was able to earn his best finish of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season with a seventh place finish.
He was last in the first practice session, last in the final session and posted the slowest time of the cars that took a time in the session, but keeping his nose clean gave him A.J. Foyt Racing’s best result at Texas Motor Speedway since Airton Dare’s third place finish in 2002.
But how did Daly get to seventh?
He was last through the first 26 laps but moved to 16th on Lap 37. After a couple of drivers had to restart from the back of the field from penalties, Daly restarted after the first caution in 13th but moved to 10th on Lap 51. However, Daly fell back during the next green flag run and fell back further to last among the running cars until the massive pileup on Lap 152.
From that point, Daly remained close to the back of the lead lap cars until after the final competition caution period ended on Lap 228. Daly became more confident, making moves that got him up to seventh place before being caught up in the final incident, spinning after not having good brakes.
“We made progress on the car all the way through and on the last stint, I thought we were really in contention for a top five,” Daly said.
“We were right in the fight which was really fun. I’ve never experienced any racing like that in my life [and] really enjoyed it.”
“I think the biggest thing tonight is that I learned a lot. That was the first time ever on an oval that I raced side-by-side or that close to anyone. (At Indy) we’re never like that and last year I didn’t make it through much of the race. It was a huge level of experience gain.”
“It was crazy to spin at the end, but we kept going, so overall just a nice day for us to make it through and survive,” said Daly.
“I think my guys did a great job – tonight was a lot of work in the pits – we were adjusting the car every stop so I have to thank them for all their work.”
The previous race at Detroit gave Daly what was his best finish of the season with a 12th place finish. Texas might give Daly the momentum he needs to get a top five finish.