[Source: AJ Foyt Racing press release]
WALLER, Texas April 2, 2013—As the son of a race driver, Conor Daly spent most of his life watching the Indianapolis 500 from the grandstands. This year the 21-year-old rising star will be seeing the race from the cockpit of an Indy car.
Daly has been hired to drive A.J. Foyt’s No. 41 ABC Supply Honda in this year’s Indianapolis 500, joining Takuma Sato who pilots the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Daly, who grew up in nearby Noblesville, Indiana, will be making his formal IndyCar debut in the 500 on May 26th although he did test the ABC Supply Indy car in December.
“I almost can’t describe what it means to have the opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500,” Daly said. “I have been to the 500 every year of my existence except for last year when I raced in Monaco. It is truly my home race since I was born and raised in the Indianapolis area. I am so thankful that A.J. and Larry [Foyt] have given me my first shot at the greatest race in the world. I know this will sound cheesy but I’ve never been happier in my life; this race means so much to me.”
Daly will participate in the Rookie Orientation Program (ROP) on Thursday, April 11th along with three other rookies: Tristan Vautier, Carlos Munoz, and A.J. Allmendinger, who has won Indy Car races while competing in Champ Car but has never raced in the Indy 500.
“I’m excited about bringing Conor to Indy for his first race at the 500,” Larry Foyt. “I’ve been watching him come up through the open wheel ranks, and when we met at the F-1 race in Austin, Texas last year, we hit it off immediately. Doing the test at Sebring confirmed he could make the step up to an Indycar, and with my dad’s guidance, the potential is there for a great month of May.”
Young Daly recalled his first experiences at the track, saying, “In my early years I spent most of my time at ‘Racing Babies’ under the Tower Terrace suites watching the races because my whole family was busy working the race weekend. When I got older, no matter how hot it was I was always sitting in the front row of one of my Mom’s Tower Terrace suites watching every single lap of the race. The Indy 500 is part of my life; I love everything about the month of May.”
Although Conor’s father Derek, an ex-Formula 1 and IndyCar driver, retired from competition before Conor was old enough to watch, his family has remained active in motorsports.
“I’m thrilled that Conor was A.J.’s choice,” said Derek Daly, who is also Conor’s manager. “With A.J. and the engineering talent within the team it will be an ideal learning environment for Conor. This year’s 500 will be a highly emotional event for me and my family.”
Daly, who turned 21 two days after his Dec. 13th IndyCar test at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, has spent the last two seasons competing in GP3, the European-based single-seater series which is a forerunner to Formula One. Daly has won in every series he has competed in, including GP3, Firestone Indy Lights, Star Mazda, and Skip Barber. He won national titles in the Mazda and Barber series.
For the senior Foyt, the decision to hire Daly was based on the positive experience in testing with him at Sebring.
“He ran well at Sebring when we needed someone to do some testing in the off season. He was fast, smooth, and didn’t get in trouble,” Foyt said. “When we made a change on the car he felt it. I found him to be very savvy on the chassis setups. In fact, when we made a minor change which was really nothing, he thought about it and said it felt no different. I told him that was the right answer because we didn’t do anything he’d be able to feel, so that impressed me too. I’ve run a lot of rookies at Indy and I think Conor will do a good job for us.”
Daly must pass two of the three phase speed test during ROP at Indy April 11th. Drivers must run 10 laps at 200-205 mph, another 10 laps at 205-209 mph, and finally, 15 laps at 210+ mph. The drivers may complete the third phase during the first week of practice and must do so before attempting to qualify on Pole Day, May 18th. The rain date for the ROP is Friday, April 12th.
The 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be held Sunday, May 26th. The race will be broadcast live by ABC starting at 12 noon ET.