Photo: Walter G. Arce Sr. /ASP Inc.

Fighting for a Full Time Ride, Conor Daly Charges to Sixth from 18th

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

MADISON, Illinois — Conor Daly couldn’t see or feel his hands at the end of of Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500, but in sixth place, it didn’t matter if he could.

The Noblesville, Indiana native was driving for his IndyCar career with a vision-altering vibration from his last set of tires at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

Starting 18th with a car that was fastest in Friday’s final practice session, Daly led one lap (Lap 119) in his fourth race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season for Carlin, a team that has had more downs than ups in 2019. The No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet’s sixth place finish was a team best through the first 15 races of 2019.

“It was awesome, man,” said Daly. “So good to drive, I think we even led a lap, which is very exciting. It just was nice to run up front, nice to run with the guys that I know and Alex (Rossi) and Josef (Newgarden) and Simon (Pagenaud), those guys are quality racers and really good people.”

Daly had some luck on his side to rise to sixth place. While running in 14th before the first round of pit stops, Team Penske’s Will Power had contact with the Turn 4 wall. Daly hadn’t made his first pit stop when the caution came out, and the caution’s timing allowed Daly to end up 10th after the first pit stop cycle.

After that, Daly had to make moves through the field whenever possible. Despite having a fast car, sixth isn’t where Daly really wanted to finish.

“To be upset with sixth is pretty cool, however, I’ve finished sixth a lot in my Indy car career and it doesn’t help my top fives, so that’s kind of annoying, but you know, we’re all right. I’m super happy,” said Daly. “It was fun. It was fun. It’d be more fun with a trophy, but we’ll be okay for now.”

Carlin team manager Colin Hale praised the hard work that Trevor Carlin’s team has put in since their difficult month of May. The team had two of their three main entries to the Indianapolis 500 fail to qualify for the race with their technical alliance with McLaren having not worked out as planned.

“[Daly]’s done a great job, and the whole team on both cars have been working hard to try and get the car a bit better on the short ovals which is tricky,” said Hale. “But you know, with the help of Conor and Charlie [Kimball] I think we may have managed to get a bit more competitive. Still not where we want to be but another step forward to where we want to be to be a bit more competitive with the guys at the front.

“We just tried to come back and keep working hard and keep the motivation up which has been a challenge because everybody took [May] quite personally and nobody wanted to be in that situation. But all I can say is a testament to all of the guys in the whole team on both cars for how hard they kept working and not let it affect them any more than it did during May and getting results like this is a small way of hopefully making them realize the work was all worth it.”

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.