Conor Daly might not be a man for all seasons, but he has a race team for all tracks, even if it is with two different teams in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
Daly, the popular driver from Noblesville, Indiana, drives the No. 20 Chevrolet on the street and road courses for Ed Carpenter Racing, and he drives the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet for Carlin on the ovals. Additionally, he drove the No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet in the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge for ECR.
Daly is driving in this week’s INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR at IMS for ECR. The first race, spanning 85 laps, is Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET on the USA Network. There will be a 75-lap race Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on NBC. The Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network will broadcast both races.
While ranking 16th overall in the series standings, Daly finished sixth for Carlin in the season-opening Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in June and was eighth in the first Iowa INDYCAR 250s at Iowa Speedway in July. He also won the pole for Carlin for that contest and put Carlin’s car eighth in the finishing order in the second Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Daly’s best finish for ECR is 12th in the GMR Grand Prix on July 4 at IMS, but he started fourth at Mid-Ohio in last month’s first race of the Honda Indy 200.
Many drivers dream of getting a chance to drive for an NTT INDYCAR SERIES team. Daly gets to drive for two in the same season.
“It’s cool,” Daly said. “We’ve had a lot of good stuff happen this year. We still have a lot to do, though. We want to check some boxes with the ECR group.
“We’ve had a lot of good results taken away from us by random situations. We had a refueling issue at Mid-Ohio after starting fourth. We have a lot to do this weekend. We have two races to do it. We qualified well here at Indianapolis on July 4.
“We’re ready. We just have to check all of the boxes.”
Daly prefers having a chance to drive for the same team for a full season, but his current opportunity makes him a full-time driver driving for different teams.
ECR owner/driver Ed Carpenter prefers to race the No. 20 Chevrolet on the ovals and is more than happy to share the entry on the road and street courses with another driver. This year, that driver has been Daly.
Conversely, Max Chilton drives the No. 59 Carlin entry on road and street courses, plus the Indianapolis 500 and prefers to have another driver contest the short ovals. Daly is the oval driver for that car this season.
“I love oval racing, and I love the opportunity Carlin gave me,” Daly said. “I’m curious to see what happens in the future.
“I’m just me, doing my thing. I’ve driven for more teams in one season before. It’s a tough deal. It’s challenging. I have to thank both of those teams for wanting to have me as part of their organization. It’s been fun. It’s been a good year.”
There are challenges working for different teams, which includes having different mechanics and engineers. Plus, there is proprietary information that each team doesn’t want to share with another racing operation.
“Because the ovals and road courses are so different, it’s like working with two different programs, anyway,” Daly said. “The only crossover was at Indy because I had done some oval races already with Carlin, then I did the Indy 500 for Ed Carpenter Racing, then I want back to Carlin.
“I always try to be respectful of each team’s data, what each team give me and what I give each team. As long as you are respectful, it’s an easy situation to work with.”
The highlight of the season was winning the pole at Iowa for Carlin. It gave a major boost to both the driver’s career and to the team, which has sometimes struggled to find the right combination in the extremely competitive NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
“That was awesome,” Daly said of the pole. “We had a lot of great results together. It was great to work with them, and I’m super thankful to those guys. But we want to finish it off strongly for ECR.
“We have one trophy for Carlin, and I would like to get one trophy for ECR. Then, we would have two trophies for two teams. That would be really cool at the end of the year. I would like to be with one team for one season, maybe with one team for multiple seasons. That would be amazing.
“I’m doing the best with what I’ve got right now, and I’m doing the best with the situation that I’ve got. I’m going to keep trying. Next year, if we have to do the same thing – road courses for one team and ovals for the other -- I’m happy to do it that way.”