By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
A year removed from turning heads in Detroit last year and following a near win at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Conor Daly once again put in another promising performance at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park.
In two distinctly different races, the Noblesville, Indiana native came from the back to the front and fought against the likes of the best names the series has to offer.
The opening race of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit weekend featured a brilliant strategy call by team owner Dale Coyne that moved Daly into the top three and in position to win. Daly picked his way forward until catching a lucky break on lap 42 when the full course caution flew. The leaders were forced to pit while Daly had already stopped on lap 37 and moved up to fifth on the restart, right behind eventual race winner Sebastien Bourdais.
Bourdais and Daly made their way to the front as the leaders made their final pitstops. Bourdais had a quick pitstop and perfect out lap to stay ahead of the race leaders while Daly led four laps with 20 seconds in hand before he needed to pit. Daly stopped for a quick splash and came out of the pits a somewhat distant second behind Bourdais and managed to get close as the two navigated lapped traffic.
Ultimately, Daly was unable to cut into Bourdais’ insurmountable lead but still managed to grab his career best finish of second.
Following the race, Daly was elated and described himself as a “Happy Human”.
“We were able to prove that we had a good car and this car has been good all weekend, it’s just sweet,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot this year, especially coming off of Indy. That was such a punch in the gut. We had a great car there too. We’re always having to fight from the back. We’re only making things difficult on ourselves. I’m still a rookie at this so there’s a lot for me to learn but gosh the guys on the stand called a beautiful race. ”
On Sunday morning, Daly nearly was in position for a career best start in qualifying, but lost his two fastest laps after going off track which relegated him to 21st place. He dodged a crash on the opening corner of the race which elimated James Hinchcliffe and Max Chilton, and damaged the cars of Takuma Sato and Marco Andretti. From there, Daly methodically marched his way to the front under green, picking up positions right and left.
Daly managed to muscle his way through the field without any trick strategies and found himself in the top 10 once again as the laps clicked away. When all was said and done, Daly backed up his result on Saturday with a 6th place finish.
“Again, we charged from the back, it goes to show that we’ve got a great car and this Honda powered Jonathan Byrd’s/Cancer Treatment Center of America machine is good for racing, it’s just that I hate to be made to start so far back. Makes you think what could’ve been. All in all, a great weekend just for points, just to get back on the board after the disaster at Indy.”