IndyCar: It’s time for Conor Daly to put up better results

Conor Daly, Ed Carpenter Racing, Indy 500, IndyCar
Conor Daly, Ed Carpenter Racing, Indy 500, IndyCar /

Conor Daly made his 100th career IndyCar start in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. It’s time for the talented 31-year-old to put up results.

Conor Daly’s IndyCar debut came back in the 2013 Indy 500, which he finished in 22nd place. That was his only start until 2015, when he competed in five races and was able to score his first top 10 finish in Detroit.

The 2016 season was his first full season in IndyCar with Dale Coyne Racing. He was able to find more success in Detroit, as he scored his first and only podium finish. He finished in the top 10 in five of the 16 races en route to an 18th place finish in the championship standings.

Ed Carpenter Racing have given Daly a steady ride since 2020, including a full schedule beginning last year, but it has been an up and down three-plus seasons with the team. In his 42 races there, he only has two top 10 finishes. While he did have four top ten finishes in 2020 alone, they all came with Carlin.

Teammate Rinus VeeKay has outperformed Daly each year since his own series debut in 2020.

Conor Daly has two big things working in his favor: his ability to run ovals, and the fact that he is an IndyCar fan-favorite.

Of his 12 top 10 finishes since 2017, nine of them have been on ovals, including two in the Indy 500. If you can find success on ovals in IndyCar, you’ll always have a spot in the series, whether it’s a full-time seat or oval-only ride like Ed Carpenter has with his own team.

In one month, Daly is set to contest his 10th Indy 500. He has been slowly building his way towards the front of the pack on Memorial Day Weekend. The past two years, he has led a combined 47 laps, including a race-high 40 in 2021.

Damage to his front wing took him out of contention in 2021, but last year he was able to stay toward the front and take home a sixth place finish, bettering his 10th place finish from 2019.

His recent success in the 500 will likely carry into this year. He posted the second fastest time during the open test session last week.

One thing is very clear at the track on race day: Conor Daly is a fan-favorite. Of course, the drivers for Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing, and Andretti Autosport make up the majority of jerseys you’ll see, but outside of those, the No. 20 BitNile jersey is clearly prevalent.

Nothing speaks louder for how much the fans love Daly quite like the eruption that came both years when he took the lead of the Indy 500.

The Noblesville, Indiana native has a great personality. He is not afraid to speak his mind on his podcast “Speed Street”, and he is quick to interact with fans on social media.

Racing runs in the family. Daly is the son of former Formula 1 and IndyCar driver Derek Daly and the stepson of none other than Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles.

Put it all together — the strength at ovals, fan following, personality, family ties — and Daly wouldn’t appear to be on the hot seat and will likely have a spot in IndyCar for several more years. But nothing is guaranteed, especially if you’re not performing.

It is not a secret that an Ed Carpenter Racing ride doesn’t give Daly the best chance at consistently competing for wins, but he should be finishing above the bottom third of the grid. He isn’t going to be competing for IndyCar championships, but he also hasn’t been performing up to his capabilities.

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Daly is set to get back in action this weekend in the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park, where his best finish is 16th place in 2021. The race is set to be broadcast live on NBC this Sunday, April 30 beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV today!