By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Although he is very experienced at Road America, Conor Daly will face a new challenge in his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at the historic 4.048-Mile road course this weekend. Daly, like fellow 2018 Indianapolis 500 starter James Davison, will trade their open wheel Dallaras for a full-bodied stock car.
Daly will drive the No. 6 Drive Down A1C Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing in his NASCAR debut. He will be joined his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship co-driver, James French, who is also making his NASCAR debut in the Johnsonville 180.
The Noblesville, Indiana native has competed in the eight IMSA events, all in the Prototype Challenge class. Daly earned three podium finishes, including a runner-up and a pole position in class at Road America with French as his co-driver. In two Verizon IndyCar Series starts, he has a best finish of 15th.
“I’ve had a lot of experience at Road America in the past,” Daly said. “I’ve won there in Skip Barber National Championship, won there in Pro Mazda and been on the podium there in sports cars. I’ve had good runs there in IndyCar as well. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve always enjoyed going there. There are a lot of incredible race fans there.”
Like another former starter of the Indianapolis 500, and IMSA race-winner, Katherine Legge did at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Daly will have to adjust to a dramatically different style of racing. In addition to the differences of weight, brakes, and a lack of driving aids, along with both headlights and taillights, the 26-year-old will face a race in which beating and banging fenders is accepted.
“This is obviously going to be a whole new experience for me with a very steep learning curve, but I’m excited for the challenge,” Daly admitted. “I’ve got two good teammates to try and learn from and hope to just get up to speed as quick as we can and just have a good race day. I don’t like to set expectations, just want to try and learn as much as I can and get a good finish, whatever that might be at the end of the day.”
Daly will have his Roush Fenway teammates, Ryan Reed and Ty Majeski, to lean on as he prepares for his debut. For Reed, this will be his fifth trip to the Elkhart Lake, WI track, where he earned one of his seven career top-fives. Majeski has just one start at the track in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.