IndyCar: The first major silly season domino has fallen

Conor Daly, Ed Carpenter Racing, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Conor Daly, Ed Carpenter Racing, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Ed Carpenter Racing IndyCar team and Conor Daly have cut ties, effective immediately. A replacement hasn’t yet been announced.

It usually takes until after the Indy 500 for things to start happening on the silly season side of IndyCar. And when the changes start happening, those changes still don’t generally go into effect until after the end of the current season.

But in the case of this year’s first big silly season domino, it is set to go into effect immediately. Ed Carpenter Racing announced on Wednesday that Conor Daly will no longer be driving the No. 20 Chevrolet, with his final race having been this past Sunday’s race on the streets of Detroit, Michigan.

The team confirmed that the No. 20 Chevrolet will remain a full-time entry, but they have not yet confirmed a replacement. The next race on the IndyCar schedule is set to take place on Sunday, June 18 at Road America. Practice for that event is scheduled to begin on Friday, June 16.

Ed Carpenter Racing signed Rinus VeeKay to a multi-year contract extension last year, so Daly was the only one of their two full-time drivers who was already set to become a free agent at the end of the year. VeeKay has driven the No. 21 Chevrolet since 2020.

So the team have effectively already turned their attention to their 2024 IndyCar roster.

And all things considered, the decision to cut ties with Daly was not a surprise. While Ed Carpenter Racing have struggled this year as a whole, VeeKay has consistently run better than Daly since the two became teammates in 2020.

Daly only recorded three top 10 finishes with the team, including a sixth place finish in last year’s Indy 500. Two of those three top 10 finishes came in the Indy 500, as he finished in eighth in this year’s running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. His other top 10 finish, a fifth place effort, also came at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a road course race last year.

Daly would be an ideal candidate for an Indy 500-only ride, but with team owner Ed Carpenter already in an oval-only entry for his team, that simply never felt like a feasible option.

With the team having not yet announced Daly’s replacement, it remains to be seen if the driver who closes out the 2023 season behind the wheel of the No. 20 Chevrolet will become a full-time driver in 2024. There are quite a few active drivers slated to become free agents at the end of the season.

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