MADISON, Ill. – Conor Daly had his own ‘Lewis & Clark Trail’ in Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway.
He went from the back to the front, back to the middle and finally finished sixth on the 1.25-mile short oval.
Driving in just his fifth race out of the 15 races held so far in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series, Daly had an impressive evening in his fourth race for the Carlin team.
Daly’s No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet started 18th on the 22-car grid and picked off three positions on the opening lap. He made it into the top 10 for the first time on Lap 51. During a pit stop sequence, Daly was seventh on Lap 52, fourth on Lap 43 and settled into second place on Lap 54.
Daly settled in behind race leader Colton Herta before the Carlin driver pitted on Lap 64. That dropped him to 11th, but Daly quickly was back in the top 10 one lap later.
From that point forward, he made a methodical charge to the front. He was fourth on Lap 59, third on Lap 116, second on Laps 117 and 118 and in the lead on Lap 119.
Daly remained a contender during the wild race on the short oval and was ultimately shuffled back to a sixth-place finish after 248 laps.
“I love racing here, it’s a great track and the car was awesome,” Daly told NTT INDYCAR Mobile. “The car was so, so good. If we got to qualify better, we could have run up front with those guys.
“We had a really bad vibration after our last pit stop, it happened after Matheus Leist came down on us, but it was a great race overall. We were always going forward and that is what we want to do.”
Daly, who competed in the No. 25 United States Air Force Honda for Andretti Autosport in the 103rd Indianapolis 500, has been the NTT IndyCar Series version of a “Super Sub” this season. When a part-time opportunity at Carlin developed after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, Daly got the call.
He finished 11th at Texas, 13th at Iowa, 11th at Pocono and sixth at Gateway.
“I’m so thankful for Carlin giving me this car,” Daly said. “It’s such a joy to drive on these ovals when the car is really good. It was tonight. I felt so competitive. It was solid, overall, moving forward and I was racing with the guys I want to race with, like Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi.
“Racing with those guys is an incredible amount of fun and I can be proud of that.”
Daly’s schedule includes driving the No. 25 Honda for Andretti Autosport at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca on September 22.
After being on what seems like a career-long audition, could Daly finally be in place to land a full-time ride for good?
“I don’t know, man,” Daly said. “I want to be here; I want to compete for wins and compete for championships. We’ll take it one step at a time.”
The NTT IndyCar Series heads to Portland, Ore., for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland. Live race coverage on NBC begins at 3 p.m. ET (noon PT local) with the green flag at approximately 3:45 p.m. Live radio broadcasts will be available on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio (XM 209, Sirius 98, Internet/App 970).