Daly confirmed for oval IndyCar races with Carlin

Conor Daly will again take the wheel of the #59 Carlin-Chevrolet for the NTT IndyCar Series’ oval races, outside of the Indianapolis 500.

The 29-year-old from Noblesville, IN. proved to be a major asset for the team when he assumed this role in 2019, following the decision by the car’s regular incumbent Max Chilton to trim his schedule to road and street courses plus the Indianapolis 500.

Although Daly was only a part-time driver at the time, the experience he had accrued at AJ Foyt Racing, Dale Coyne Racing, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (as was), Harding Racing and Andretti Autosport over the previous five seasons proved helpful to Carlin and teammate Charlie Kimball in helping to refine the squad’s oval setups in only its second season of IndyCar racing.

In his fourth race for Carlin – with whom he had also competed in GP3 back in 2011 – Daly delivered a sixth place at Gateway’s World Wide Technology Raceway.

So when Daly landed the road/street/Indy 500 deal with Ed Carpenter Racing for 2020, Carlin was still keen to retain his services as Chilton’s sub on the other ovals, especially given that the team had reduced to a one-car entry.

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Again Trevor Carlin’s faith was justified. Daly scored a pole position at Iowa Speedway and four top 10s in his five outings for the Delray Beach, FL.-based arm of the legendary UK-founded team.

Today, Carlin and Daly confirmed he will again drive the #59 Gallagher car, although the 2021 schedule contains only three oval races outside of the Indy 500 – this weekend’s double-header at Texas Motor Speedway and the August race at Gateway WWTR. 

The announcement confirmed Daly's presence in the Texas races, and he is expecting to get the ride again for Gateway.

Daly told Motorsport.com: “It’s fulfillment of what both I and the team want to do. I obviously want to be competing in all the races and between Ed Carpenter Racing and Carlin, I’ve got that opportunity for a second year, which is awesome.

“And for Carlin, obviously they want to have a car running at all events because they want the Leader Circle spot [the approximately $1m bonus granted to the top 22 cars in the championship] and my job is to help them achieve that.

“Obviously, I’m more than happy to take this opportunity, because I really enjoy being part of Carlin; it’s one of the most enjoyable experiences in my IndyCar career. Seeing the progress we’ve made together has been really, really rewarding because those guys are prepared to put everything on the line to improve themselves and give me what I need. That’s all you can ask for.”

Daly said he believes that Carlin can compete in the top five on all ovals, despite Iowa having now been deleted from the schedule.

“I certainly hope we can be at that level,” said Daly, “and I think we could have been right up there last year at Texas if it wasn’t for the fact that the track had become kinda one-lane. I mean, even so, we made it from near the back [19th] to come up through the field and finish sixth.

“And at the recent test at Indy, Max was pretty good on raw speed, so I think Carlin has made good progress in that area. At Texas that is going to be so important because we qualify and race on the same day, and the cars are impounded in between so we qualify with race downforce on. You just load it with downforce and hope the car’s rolling pretty well for qualifying.

“But to your point, we have no expectation or goal other than to run up front; we go there expecting to be competitive. And I think our rivals expect that from us after the last few oval races.”

Team owner Grahame ‘Chily’ Chilton added: “We’re very pleased to have Conor back with the team, we’ve enjoyed some successful races together in the past and we’re aiming to continue where we left off with our oval form.”

Conor Daly with the Carlin Chevrolet crew after taking the team's first IndyCar pole at Iowa last year.

Conor Daly with the Carlin Chevrolet crew after taking the team's first IndyCar pole at Iowa last year.

Photo by: IndyCar Series

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