Texas Takeaways: Daly doubles up with Texas two-step

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Conor Daly will split his 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season between Carlin and Ed Carpenter Racing. Both cars that Daly will drive this season had strong efforts at Texas Motor Speedway.

Driving the sole entry for Carlin, Daly improved 13 positions in the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet. He made 27 on-track passes on the night, including 16 for a position. Both numbers ranked second among all drivers in the field.

“It was an awesome night and I knew we had a great car in the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet,” said Daly, who was racing at the same track for the same team for the first time in his INDYCAR career. “I messed up a little bit in qualifying and just under drove it, but we made up for it with such a great race. The team had great pit stops, really incredible pit stops all night. The car was fantastic to drive and it really gave me the confidence to go forward.

“We made such a great improvement from last year. To be honest, we probably should’ve been in the top five, but we just got a little loose in those last three laps and just couldn’t hang onto it. I was driving it pretty sideways for the final couple laps. It’s such a great way to start out the championship.”

Meanwhile, the car that Daly will move to for the GMR Grand Prix on July 4, finished just ahead of Daly. Ed Carpenter, driving the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, highlighted a rough day for his team with a fifth-place finish – the top finish from a team outside the Big Three of Andretti, Ganassi and Penske.

ALL IN ONE DAY EXPERIENCE

Ryan Hunter-Reay prepares to head on to the trackAfter waiting to race for three months, Ryan Hunter-Reay joked he was trying to squeeze a season’s worth of experiences in a single day.

And though the box score reads the 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner started fourth and finished eighth, it doesn’t tell the whole story of Hunter-Reay’s day.

Electronics issues on the grid forced the Andretti Autosport crew – which had already been forced to repair the No. 28 DHL Honda after Hunter-Reay met the Turn 2 wall a few minutes into practice – to scramble to get Hunter-Reay started before the green flag.

But once they did, Hunter-Reay was penalized for unapproved changes under INDYCAR impound rules.

The resulting drive-through penalty saw Hunter-Reay tumble to 22nd and a lap down after just five laps of racing at Texas's 1.5-mile oval. Hunter-Reay, though, never gave up. He fought to stay in touch with the field, and when the race’s second caution flew, it let him take advantage of a wave-around. He found himself in a position to showcase the strength of his car and move up through the field.

“Incredibly unfortunate events got us at the start of the race,” Hunter-Reay said. “It ended up being a track position race which would’ve really benefited us and unfortunately, we had an issue with the electronics starting up and had to make a change. Because of the impound rule for the event, we got penalized twice. I’m not really sure why the cartoon anvil keeps dropping on the 28 but it’s definitely getting old. Great job by the whole 28 DHL Honda team. We had a good car to represent our partners and our teammates great today, but we were robbed.”

TK'S LAST LAP STARTS WITH FIRST SPEEDING TICKET

Tony Kanaan on trackTK’s Last Lap almost had a storybook opening chapter.

Running the iconic 7-Eleven livery that carried him to the 2004 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship, Kanaan found himself in position for his first top-five finish at the track in nearly four seasons.

But running 10th, Kanaan was penalized for speeding on pit road and forced to take a mid-race restart from the back of the pack. With passing at a premium on Saturday night, the veteran driver was only able to get back to 10th and wonder what could have been.

“First time in 23 years, I got a speeding violation and that cost us track position,” said Kanaan, who scored his 16th top-10 in 21 Texas starts. “From then on, I was just trying to minimize the damage because track position was extremely important. But I had a great qualifying and at the end of the race, we actually got lucky and got the yellow at the right time and we gained seven positions and finished in the top 10, so I’ll take it.”

Kanaan will only compete in the oval events in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, sharing AJ Foyt Racing's No. 14 Chevrolet with rookie Dalton Kellett and four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais. His next scheduled races are the July 17-18 doubleheader races at Iowa Speedway.

BONUS TAKEAWAY

By winning the Genesys 300, Scott Dixon captured his fourth NTT INDYCAR SERIES win at Texas Motor Speedway. The previous three seasons that Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing took home the cowboy hat, six-shooters and Foyt-Rutherford Trophy (2008, 2015 and 2018), he also won the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship.

Fellow competitors beware.

UP NEXT

The GMR Grand Prix will be held July 4, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with live coverage on NBC. Live radio broadcasts will be available on the INDYCAR Radio Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

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