Daly Finally Achieves Full-Time Ride with Dale Coyne Racing
Conor Daly has included the hashtag #NEVERGIVEUP in many of his tweets in recent years. It “makes sense now,” he says.
Daly, son of Ireland’s F1 & Indycar racer Derek Daly, who has competed in six Verizon IndyCar Series races with three teams since 2013, has pursued a full-time ride “for years.” His persistence and race craft displayed in spot opportunities this past season were rewarded on Dec. 11, when Daly was named to drive the No. 18 Honda for the full 2016 season with Dale Coyne Racing. The announcement came on the INDYCAR stage at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis.
Coyne also announced that four-time USAC champion Bryan Clauson will drive a Dale Coyne Racing-prepared Honda in association with Jonathan Byrd’s Racing in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in May. The Coyne team plans for two full-season Verizon IndyCar Series entries and a fourth entry for the Indianapolis 500.
“It’s an amazing thing to think that I actually get to prepare for races before the weekend,” said the 23-year-old Daly, who won the 2010 Star Mazda championship and was a race winner in the 2011 Indy Lights season before pursuing open-wheel opportunities in Europe. “I haven’t actually competed in a full season of racing since 2013. There was a really scary time in my career so it’s incredible to finally be able to get this break.
“Just excited to work; to finally be able to put away the sponsorship books and cold calls and just be able to work at what I know, what I can do and what I love to do, which is driving and all the aspects of Indy car racing.”
Daly, 23, broke into the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2013, driving in the Indianapolis 500 for AJ Foyt Racing. He was pressed into action in April 2015 at Long Beach as a substitute driver in a Coyne car, then drove in four races as the replacement for the injured James Hinchcliffe in a Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry. The Noblesville, Ind., resident had a best finish of sixth at second race of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit doubleheader, led his first laps in the series and was running at the finish in five races.
“I had to go in and make the best of every situation because I never knew what would happen next,” he said. “So when I got the opportunity at Long Beach last year or the chance to fill in for James, I had to give my absolute best and focus on doing everything perfect.”
Meanwhile, Clauson will attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 for a third time. The 100th Running is part of the 26-year-old Noblesville, Ind., resident’s plan to drive in 200 open-wheel races in 2016.
“I’m excited to be returning to the Speedway in 2016 with the support of the Byrd family, the Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group and Cancer Treatment Centers of America,” Clauson said. “I hope this is the start of a long and successful relationship between two groups of passionate supporters of open-wheel racing. The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is the centerpiece of what is a very busy schedule for me in 2016 and I’m eager to get on track and build on the things that we learned this year.”
2. Aleshin Returning to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 2016: Mikhail Aleshin, who competed for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 17 races during the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season and the 2015 series finale, will rejoin the team for the 2016 season.