By David Morgan, Associate Editor
CONCORD, N.C. – NTT IndyCar Series regular Conor Daly can now add NASCAR Cup Series driver to his resume after completing his debut race in the series Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
While the Bank of America ROVAL 400 weekend started inauspiciously with an encounter with the wall, which left his team scrambling to get the car repaired for race day, Daly held his own once the green flag dropped on Sunday, gaining confidence with each passing lap in his No. 50 Bitnile-sponsored Chevrolet.
Even after having to deal with a small electrical fire late in the race, Daly was able to return to the race and run through to the finish, ending the day scored in 34th place – one position ahead of defending series champion Kyle Larson.
Though he had just been through the stock car school of hard knocks, Daly was all smiles afterwards as he explained how his first foray into the Cup Series played out.
“Honestly, it was just such an aggressive learning experience,” Daly said. “I think once we got to the middle though, we started getting a lot better. Once we kind of settled in with Truex and Keselowski, you know, we were faster than the 19 and kind of on pace to Chase — a little bit different tire life.
“But the stint as well when we passed Rockenfeller and started kind of moving up was like, okay, now, like we’re feeling it, but I was doing so much work on the brake bias. I think we started way further forward than we should have, so two left fronts exploded. And then we caught on fire.
“So, a lot was happening so that kind of didn’t help us results wise. But pace wise, I think we were actually quite good.”
Now that he’s got one start under his belt, Daly noted that he’s ready for more should he get the chance to climb behind the wheel of a stock car again in the future.
“I’d love to,” Daly said. “Because like now I know so much more, you know what I mean? And like I feel more comfortable every time. Every time we were doing laps it felt better. Now I wish there was another race tomorrow.”
Daly has been able to run on numerous road courses during his time in open wheel racing, so how does the Charlotte ROVAL compare?
“The track’s actually pretty fun. I do think it’s hard to pass. I think it’s tough to generate runs in certain places, but when you do get the run, it’s tough to pass, but a fun track to drive. I think it’s a good driver’s track.”
While the road course/oval hybrid track may play well with stock cars, Daly explained the same may not be true if the NTT IndyCar Series ever ventured to Charlotte for a race.
“I think it’s a little bit too small for the Indy cars,” Daly said. “Because I think we would be going so fast over on [Turn] 1 and 2 and [Turn] 3 and 4, that we wouldn’t have enough time to generate a run. I love it.
“It’s kind of similar to Barber. Like Barber doesn’t really have long enough straights to have a great race, but when the tires fall off there, it’s a better race. Maybe if the tires fall off aggressively here, it would be better. But it’s a fun track to drive for sure.”