No track can bring out the stars quite like Indianapolis Motor Speedway. With Conor Daly, the Verizon IndyCar Series rookie for Dale Coyne Racing returns to IMS after competing in three of the last four Indy 500s.
This time, however, it’s a different experience for the 24-year-old, who enjoys some NASCAR action this weekend while outside the cockpit.
“It’s great. Its always fun to be here,” Daly said. “This is my hometown, [I live] not too far away. We don’t get to see these guys that often so it’s good to see guys like AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, some of the guys we know, Jimmie Johnson and all those good guys. It’s cool to come out and hang out a bit.”
Witnessing the 725-horsepower stock car beasts is something Daly doesn’t get to see too often, as Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 XFINITY Series race stood as his first race of the season.“This is my first one of the year and probably the only one,” he said. “We never get to go because we are so busy. If we have a weekend off – this is our weekend off – but it’s our hometown so it’s easy to come out to one.”
Scratching and clawing through the rough, treacherous month of May in the past, Daly finished a career-high 22nd in the 2013 Indy 500 before placing 29th in this year’s 100th running.
Watching and listening to a whole new form of racing like NASCAR, there is no shortage of IndyCar loyalty in Daly.
“I like ours better,” he said with a smile. “It’s just a different form of racing and it’s cool to see for sure. I prefer our speed a little bit more.”
One thing both IndyCar and NASCAR share is drivers like AJ Allmendinger, Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch and more who have competed in both the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 in their careers. Though he may not be first in line to make the switch to NASCAR, Daly says he likes learning about the differences between each racecar.
“It’s interesting to just talk with them and just find out the differences and what they think of it,” he said. “It’s a totally different realm for sure. A totally different style. They each have their specialties.”
Daly, in his own style, has been making the rounds during his first full-time IndyCar season. Finishing second at Belle Isle Race No. 1, Daly has led four times this year and is hot off his career-best qualifying effort last time out in Toronto.
However, mixing those numbers with only three top-10 finishes through 11 events, Daly has kept a realistic view on his season, as he sits 18th in points with five races remaining.
“We’ve had a good run,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of good stuff going on, a lot of bad luck as well. It’s been up and down. For me, I want to keep learning, keep driving and work toward next year. We want to work toward getting as much experience as we can this year and be ready to start next year strong.”
With 2016 plans still on the table, Daly spoke with confidence regarding his future with Dale Coyne Racing.
“We’ll see,” he said. “Dale has the first option on me for next year so that’s all I can think about for now. Just taking it day by day.”
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