By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas — Both Carlin and driver Conor Daly have endured positive and negative series of events over the past month in the NTT IndyCar Series.
Carlin’s Month of May at Indianapolis was one to forget after only Charlie Kimball made the field while Max Chilton and Pato O’Ward missed the race. Then lead engineer Geoff Fickling left the team and Steve Barker stepped in. Finally, Carlin announced Tuesday that Daly will replace Chilton in Saturday’s DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway as he’ll no longer be driving in any of the remaining ovals this year.
As for Daly, the 103rd Indianapolis 500 was tremendously positive. He not only made the absolute most out of his one-off Andretti Autosport gig and brought it home 10th, it showcased he’s still a valuable driver in the sport.
The following question after Indy became whether he’ll have another crack at the sport this year.
Although he drove the Indy two-seater at Belle Isle the following week after Indianapolis, Daly wouldn’t have to wait long to get his next race under his belt with Carlin, his GP3 (now Formula 3) team from 2011.
Race speed has been a struggle for Daly this weekend and it showed during qualifying, where he’ll start 19th out of the 22-car field. Daly commented that he’s been lacking the feel on the rear of his car and a type of driving style which suits Kimball, doesn’t work for him at all.
“Honestly, we tried to trim out a little bit. To be totally honest, I just can’t feel the rear of this car at all and that’s hard,” said Daly. “It’s a process because we only had an hour to work at it and it’s a completely different way the car feels. Sometimes different teams work in different ways. There’s nothing wrong with it.
“Charlie has a lot of experience here and he like a car a certain way. I can’t drive it that way at all. It’s an experiment for us as a team. We’re working towards a better goal, but it’s just hard. I would like to have a home eventually and would like to be in place for a long period of time. But for now, I’m going to keep doing what I can do.”
Kimball said the inclusion of Daly has brought a different light for the team after the struggles Carlin’s endured, including himself after his Indy 500 race was being involved in a multi-car crash late in the race. He would finish 25th.
“It’s been good. He’s got a whole new perspective coming off the Month of May with a Honda powered team as well,” said Kimball. “It’s a little different perspective. Different feel he wants something out of the cockpit than what I do. So it’s a great other flag in the ground for us as a team.”
While his tenure with Carlin after Texas remains unknown, Daly understands the pressure of competing with full-time drivers, so his race expectations isn’t extreme as people would expect from the Noblesville, Indiana native.
“The team’s been awesome. They’ve welcomed me in the team. I know a lot of these guys. Trevor (Carlin) is a great guy, but you just have to realize how hard this is with what we’re doing,” Daly on driving for Carlin’s No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet. “These full-season guys are in here all the time. It’s so hard jumping from one team to another, but I’m the guy who does it. I got to keep my expectations in check because you really want to do well.
“Indy was so fun, and it was so great to do well. You just to try and keep your brain in check and make sure that it’s a good solid weekend overall and safe.”
Last year at Texas, Kimball led Carlin with a 10th place result while Chilton finished 12th. Daly, who has a personal best at seventh back in 2017 when he drove for AJ Foyt Racing, made note of it when discussing about staying in the hunt for a possible strong finish as tire wear being the main topic of this weekend’s race
“The thing about Texas nowadays with the tire wear people are expecting, it’s just about staying in the hunt,” Daly commented. “Last year, this team finished 10th and 12th. You wouldn’t have really thought that if you saw the beginning of the race. Sometimes people get better as they goal and that’s our goal. We’re going to start tomorrow conservative, trying to get through the first half of the race and just tune one the car and see what happens.”
Green flag for the DXC Technology 600 will be waved at 8:45 pm EST. The race is 248 laps.