Asked which was more difficult – entering Turn 1 at Indianapolis at 220mph or finding funds to keep racing Indy cars – Conor Daly didn’t hesitate.
“Finding money, that’s a lot tougher,” said the second-generation driver who was confirmed Tuesday as Dale Coyne’s third entry in the 102nd Indianapolis 500. “It’s been a crazy six months but I’m just thankful for Dale, Thom Burns and the U.S. Air Force.
“Without them I’d be a spectator this May.”
Daly ended 2017 with some strong races for A.J. Foyt but learned upon returning from taping CBS’ “The Amazing Race” that he’d been replaced by Matheus Leist, who reportedly brought Brazilian TV money to the four-time Indy winner’s team.
A winner at every level in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, the 26-year-old Noblesville native turned in some good drives for Coyne in 2016 before being hired full-time by Foyt for 2017.
“I thought I did a good enough job last year to keep my ride but obviously that feeling wasn’t shared so you’ve got to move on and keep digging,” said the son of the former F1/IndyCar regular Derek Daly.
“I guess what I’ve learned from this is that you can’t be surprised by anything. Take advantage of your opportunities but never get comfortable because this is a crazy business.”
Burns, who owns an Indianapolis property development company, has been helping field cars at Indy since 1987 for Steve Chassey, Jeff Andretti, Scott Sharp, Dominic Dobson and ’96 Indy winner Buddy Lazier.
This will be Daly’s fifth start at Indianapolis.
“I’ve got Dan Hobbs as my engineer and he was with me in my first test at Schmidt so I really like him and I think we’ll click,” said Daly. “Dale’s got a lot of good people and it’s a great environment so I feel fortunate to get this opportunity.”