Photo: Walter G. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Daly Relishes Opportunity Ahead at Indianapolis on Sunday

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Conor Daly has grown up around the Indianapolis 500 and even after all these years, isn’t taking it for granted that he has the opportunity once again to try and make his mark on the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

After unceremoniously losing his ride with Ed Carpenter Racing midway through the 2023 season, Daly is back at Indianapolis in a one-off deal with Dreyer and Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports to try once again to win in front of his hometown crowd.

Though qualifying did not go to plan for the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet, Daly isn’t planning on holding back once the green flag flies on Sunday – even if he has to come from 29th to do so.

“They say go big or go home. I’m literally going big and still going home afterwards. I have no other choice other than to leave it all on the table,” Daly said.

“Honestly, I think we’ve kind of been low-key pretty good and kind of sneaking under the radar, I hope. It feels good. Car’s fast. I mean, certainly one way to go, can’t go much further back, so we’re going to go forward.”

As a native Hoosier, Daly knows what this race means to this community and relishes every opportunity he has to strap on his helmet and climb behind the wheel of an Indy car in pursuit of the Borg Warner Trophy.

He has come close on a few different occasions and that has only strengthened his resolve to be in the mix when it comes down to it on Sunday.

“I mean, it never gets old. The butterflies every morning, wanting to stay here, the bus lot. Still that feeling is incredible,” Daly said.

“I’ve seen this event, it’s always been the same car for me technically, just different shapes of the car, but I feel like I’ve seen many different eras of this event. I’ve been part of the hundredth running of the Indy 500, coolest thing ever to say. I’ve been here when Alex Rossi won the hundredth, all this cool stuff. It’s been amazing and it never gets old. Something exciting and cool every year.

“I want to make history here, too. That would be really awesome. I love it. Never gets old. I just hope I can keep doing this for a long time, maybe as long as my teammate, Ryan. He’s in his 40s, right? Hopefully I got that many years in me, too. That would be pretty cool.”

With teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay starting from the top 12, Daly knows that his team has the speed to be a contender, it’s just a matter of getting through the field from his deep starting position to get himself where he needs to be to strike late in the race.

“Other than Fast Friday, we’ve been really confident every day,” Daly said. “I’ve honestly been impressed with this Dreyer Reinbold Cusick team. Everyone from Chevrolet has been super helpful for us, as well.

“As a one-time entrant, it’s tough to show up to the big game here and be right in the gate. We have cars in the Fast 12, two cars that are really fast. That’s really impressive yet again from Dennis and everyone at the team.

“I feel great. I feel very confident. I wouldn’t lie to everyone clearly. I’ve been very honest, probably too honest, in my life. We’re pretty stoked about this weekend.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.