By Conor Daly, Verizon IndyCar Series Driver
It’s been a while since my last blog and that’s because it’s been crazy busy! It’s been non-stop since the start of May, but we finally had a little breathing room this past week.
I think I’ve gone through every emotion since the start of May, I had the joy of leading my first laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Grand Prix, I suffered a huge disappointment after spinning out of the Indy 500, I then experienced the best weekend of my career in Detroit, scoring my first Verizon IndyCar Series podium and then there was the crash at Texas.
In a weird way, it’s the beauty of this series, you can go through so many things, so many different emotions and every race weekend can be so different from one to the next.
The Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis is what kicked everything off in May. After a terrible qualifying session for us that weekend, the race was much, much better. Thanks to another great strategy by the team, I was able to make my way to the front of the field, and was able to get by Helio Castroneves going into Turn 1 on a restart. That was fun, to say the least! Leading my first laps at IMS was an awesome feeling.
We went on to finish sixth, which at the time matched my best finish in the series. It was certainly a great way to kick off activities for the month of May, sadly the Indy 500 didn’t end on such a high note!
Racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Indy 500 is always special, but this year with it being the 100th Running everything was amplified. I love racing at the 500, I never want to leave the track!
We had some good practice sessions in the lead up to qualifying and while we didn’t quite qualify where we would’ve liked, we had a really good race car. Unfortunately, I was at the wrong place at the wrong time with Aleshin making contact with the wall in front of me. I couldn’t see anything with the smoke and I thought his car would bounce off the wall and come back down so I lifted and the rear came around and that was it for us.
I was very, very disappointed with how everything ended. I would’ve loved to give my friend Pat McAfee (of the Indianapolis Colts) a good result after he stepped up to sponsor me at the last minute with his ShirtsForAmerica.com company. A company that was created by this opportunity. It was great having him there cheering me on.
It was also an honor to have Lilly Diabetes come on board. Not a lot of people know that I live with diabetes so there was a great connection there with them being an Indiana-based company sponsoring an Indiana kid. Again, I wish I could’ve given them more to cheer for.
The Speedway will do that to you. You either have a great day like Alexander Rossi did or you leave there feeling empty, and it just makes you want to go back and give it another try.
With that lack of a result in mind, I have to add that the highlight of race day for me ended up being a quick visit to the Snake Pit and having my helmet signed by some of the DJs. I’m a huge fan of Electronic Dance Music and I had all the names of the DJs playing at the Snake Pit on the back of my helmet as part of its design. It was really cool to be able to take 30 minutes out of a hectic couple of weeks to go do that.
Back to racing. After the punch in the gut that was Indy, we went to Detroit. It was my second time racing there and I must say Detroit has been very nice to me so far.
Once again we had qualified at the back of the field and so we had to work our way up. Like at the Indy Grand Prix, my engineer Michael Cannon and our Team Owner Dale Coyne came up with the perfect strategy to give me the opportunity to finish up front. We were so close to coming out in front of Bourdais on our last pit stop too.
Finishing second felt so much like a win to us. It was a little surreal to be honest. I was chasing Sebastien Bourdais and defending against Juan Pablo Montoya. These are guys that I used to watch growing up and to be up there fighting for a spot on the podium with them, it’s kind of crazy.
It was really a great day in Detroit, and the best part, or the hardest part, is that we had to do it all over again the next day!
I was very confident going into the second race of the weekend. Our Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality car was fast and had it not been for some penalty that took away my fastest time in qualifying that morning, I would’ve started fifth instead of all the way at the back of the field.
I’ll admit that was very frustrating. I wasn’t happy but we had to live with it. We’ve struggled in qualifying this year and to finally be fast and high up the time sheets, it was great and to have that taken away is just maddening.
That said, we knew what we could do since we had done it the day before. This time, we managed to make it up all the way to sixth. It just makes you think what could’ve been had we started based on our actual speed…
All in all, Detroit was a great weekend, my best so far in the IndyCar Series and I won’t soon forget it.
Then came Texas. It was my first time driving at Texas Motor Speedway and I couldn’t wait. It’s a race that has always fascinated me. We struggled quite a bit getting comfortable with the car in practice and qualifying but that changed completely in the race.
After the Saturday night rain delay, we finally got to take the green flag on Sunday and the Dale Coyne Racing #18 car was great, until it wasn’t! Everything was going super well for us and we had made it up to second after starting on the last row.
I was the rookie to make a mistake though. The car had been really consistent, it was fantastic and we were making great progress. I didn’t expect the car to slide when it did, it kind of surprised me because the laps before everything was fine and this time it wasn’t.
I apologized to Josef for ruining his race and causing the incident. It’s one thing ending your own race but it’s another ending someone else’s when it’s not their fault. I’m just glad Josef only had minor injuries.
It’s a shame, we were doing so well but on to the next one. It’s Road America and I can’t wait!
Thanks for reading!