Race Weekend Central

Conor Daly Charges to 4th Starting Position in GMR Grand Prix

INDIANAPOLIS — Conor Daly just needed that new inflatable jacuzzi to push the bad luck away.

Daly ordered the inflatable hot tub online and filled it up in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield in order to feel better at the track. Based on qualifying results at the IMS road course, that hot tub might be working.

The Noblesville, Indiana native qualified fourth for Saturday’s (May 14) GMR Grand Prix. That is Daly’s best starting position in NTT IndyCar Series competition at the IMS road course.

The No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet turned a best lap of 1 minute, 9.9063 seconds, averaging 125.602 mph around the 14-turn, 2.439 mile road course. The lap was only .1399 seconds slower than the lap Will Power set for pole position.

“When you have a good qualifying, especially at [Indianapolis], this is an incredible track,” Daly said in the post qualifying press conference. “I truly believe that. It’s so close, it’s insane how the gaps are so small. It’s nice to be able to just put three solid runs together. Would have been nice to maybe be on the front row, but I just had one moment on the lap, and that’s all it takes. It’s still a great day for us.”

Daly’s qualifying odyssey began in the second group of the first round of qualifying. After six drivers advanced from the first group, the 2010 Indy Pro 2000 champion was fifth fastest with a lap of 1 minute, 9.7210 seconds to advance to the second round of qualifying.

With the times erased, Daly went to round two and squeezed his way through to the Fast Six with a sixth-fastest lap of 1 minute, 9.6530 seconds, bumping Callum Ilott out of the final round by .0143 seconds.

In the Fast Six, Daly was on course for a front row starting position in his final lap of the session. As Daly drove through turn 10, he had to correct the car’s momentum and that slight loss of time was just enough to prevent Daly from getting on the front row of the grid.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course has seemed to be Daly’s strongest road course, going back to his first race on the track in 2016 with a sixth-place finish after starting 22nd. After qualifying sixth for the 2021 GMR Grand Prix, however, Daly’s race fell apart immediately after contact with another car required lengthy repairs to fix the damage.

However, maybe things are starting to turn around for one of IndyCar’s more popular drivers at one of his favorite tracks.

“The Ed Carpenter Team has a great handle on this circuit for sure,” Daly said. “We have done a lot of work on the simulator here as well, but I’ve obviously — there’s no question I’ve struggled with this generation of car. There’s certain places where every driver has their better tracks and their worse tracks. 

“Apparently here I remember how to drive. I don’t know. It’s one of those things that this car here just it feels fast. You can drive it fast, and it does what I want. So I feel like it’s been a difficult window to find at other circuits, but for whatever reason here, it suits my style more than a few other places for sure.”

It was a true day of contrast for Ed Carpenter Racing, as teammate Rinus VeeKay qualified 15th, failing to advance to the second round of qualifying by just over a tenth of a second. At the most recent IndyCar race at Barber, VeeKay won the pole and finished third while Daly qualified 22nd and finished 19th.

Could the hot tub turn things around? Time will tell.

The GMR Grand Prix will air live on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. The start time was moved up to 3:07 due to thunderstorms in the forecast. For more live IndyCar content at the track, follow the author on Twitter.

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