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Tuesday, June 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Local driver looks to leave impact on Indy 500

It will be nothing out of the ordinary.

Just as he has for 20 of his 21 years, Conor Daly will wake up early on Sunday and head to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indianapolis 500. The race, which just may be the largest event, sporting or otherwise, in Daly’s native Indiana is a family tradition. Conor’s father, Derek Daly, competed in the race six times between 1983 and 1989, and the Daly family attends every year.

Daly, born and raised in Noblesville, Ind., will again make the short drive to the IMS for this year’s Indy 500, continuing his family’s May tradition.

There will be one slight difference, however. Instead of merely spectating, Conor Daly will be in the field for the Indianapolis 500.

It will be nothing out of the ordinary.

Daly, who races primarily in Europe’s ladder system, will drive the No. 41 ABC Supply for A.J. Foyt Racing. The team is owned and operated by four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt, who saw promise in the rookie.

“I tested with the team back in December, and I knew early that they wanted to have a fully-funded second car at the 500,” Daly said. “They wanted to try and work with me somehow, and sure enough we were able to put a deal together, and here I am.”

Daly has had great success throughout his racing career, winning season championships in 2010 and 2012 and collecting 14 race victories in his five full-time seasons, but struggled to stay on the track during last week’s practice and qualifying sessions. After a hard crash in practice last Thursday, Daly was unable to finish his first qualifying run on Pole Day because of a broken header in his car.

Bump Day brought better results for Daly. He made the field and will start Sunday’s race in 31st position.

“It was definitely a big bump in the road, really unfortunate too,” Daly said. “But everyone’s said to me, ‘There are those who have hit the wall at Indy, and there are those who will.’ It’s part of the experience.

“Unfortunately, Pole Day was another disaster with the header breaking… in the end, we were able to put it together and get in the field, and that’s all we wanted to do.”

It will be nothing out of the ordinary.

Despite its prominence, the Indianapolis 500 is a race; wide-eyed rookies and grizzled veterans coming together in a simple attempt to reach the finish line before everybody else on the track.

Daly has kept his aspirations low, acknowledging that lack of experience may hinder his ability to be competitive in this year’s race.

“Honestly, if I can just get the experience of doing the whole race, I’d be really happy,” Daly said. “It’s a long race, 500 miles, and I’d really like to just make it through in a somewhat competitive position the whole time. I want to go at it to win, but I know that I have to look at it in a different perspective as well.”

It will be nothing out of the ordinary.

Just as he has hundreds of times, Daly will make his way to a racetrack early, strap himself into a car and hurtle himself in an oval as fast as that car will allow.

For him, this will be natural. Daly has been behind the wheel of a racecar since he was 10 years old. He has raced cars across the globe, in every variation of American and European racing, attempting to make a name for himself outside of his father’s shadow – and succeeding.

It will be nothing out of the ordinary. Except it may be the biggest moment of Conor Daly’s life.

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