By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
Years in IndyCar: 1
Laps led: 68
2016 Team: Dale Coyne Racing
2017 Team: AJ Foyt Racing
While Conor Daly ended his freshman season 18th in the standings, the results do not match the talent.
The Noblesville, Indiana native managed to punch above his own weight several times throughout the year, highlighted by a second-place finish in the first Detroit race.
Another promising run came at the IndyCar Grand Prix at Indianapolis where he finished sixth after leading a good chunk of the race. In the end, he ended the year with five top 10s and 56 laps led.
Other highlights were a sixth place at Mid-Ohio after leading 22 laps and a good strategy call netting him a fourth-place finish at Watkins Glen.
By use of good strategy, he and his Dale Coyne Racing propelled themselves to the front on several occasions when he started deep in the field. Those come-from-behind performances earned him the Tag Heuer Don’t Crack Under Pressure award by season’s end.
What was more encouraging was seeing Daly hang with the leaders and give them a run for their money while driving for a team with a limited budget.
Ovals were a struggle for the 25-year-old as the team seemed to find the right car setup.
The upcoming season sees Daly move over to AJ Foyt Racing alongside fellow team newcomer Carlos Munoz. Daly made his first IndyCar start with at the 2013 running of the Indianapolis 500.
While moving to a new team has its ins and outs, there are many reasons to be excited about Daly’s sophomore season. He has an experienced teammate in Munoz to lean on as well as new team technical director Will Phillips who has worked with drivers Danny Sullivan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Sharp and Alex Tagliani.
Both drivers and the team will have to learn the Chevrolet aero kit, which has been the kit of choice over the last few years.
His qualifying issues can be remedied with more practice on the softer red tires, which he will have due to IndyCar’s rule change that allows teams to practice on the reds.
Getting better on ovals is a matter of seat time and having a good car setup, which he will get more of this year. Plus having Munoz’s oval knowledge will pay dividends.
He will be returning to many tracks for the second time so he has a lot to build on each race weekend.
When you put all of that together, Daly could be the guy that helps bring AJ Foyt Racing towards the front again. He can run up front and just needs to improve in a few areas to make everything full circle.