Conor Daly gets full-time IndyCar ride with Dale Coyne Racing
INDIANAPOLIS – Conor Daly’s mother, Beth Boles, stood off to the side and joked that Christmas came early for her son Conor after he was named to a full-time ride with Dale Coyne Racing for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
“I told Conor that he just got his biggest Christmas gift of all so I don’t have to get him any Christmas presents this year,” Beth Boles said. “And his birthday is next week so this news today should take care of both of those holidays.”
Daly’s Honda will be sponsored by Central Indiana based Jonathan Byrd’s hospitality group – a longtime sponsor in IndyCar and the United States Auto Club. USAC star Bryan Clauson will drive the No. 88 Dale Coyne Racing/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Honda as a one-off entry for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. Daly will drive the No. 18 Honda in every Verizon IndyCar Series race.
Daly was a late-weekend fill-in for Dale Coyne Racing in last April’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He started 21st and finished 17th. He competed in four more races for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports in a Honda with a best finish of sixth in the second race of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit doubleheader.
“It’s really happening so you guys can totally believe it now,” Daly said of getting a full-season ride. “I’ve been at IndyCar races since my birth so to be on a team like it’s a dream come true. I can’t wait to get ready to go. We are testing next week and look forward to that.”
Daly will begin to acclimate to the updated Honda HPD aero kit on Dec. 14 and 15 as the Dale Coyne Racing team will take part in their second test of the offseason at Sebring International Raceway.
“To be honest this has really only been a week out,” Daly said. “This all started coming together about a month ago. This is surreal to me because I’ve seen deals happen and then not happen. But this one is really happening.
“It’s been crazy. It has been so tough. There have been a lot of moments were I have considered what else can I do. I can forget about all that stuff now. I can look forward and not look back. I want to compete every weekend for a top 10. I have no doubt we can do that and we should have a good shot at doing that.”
Coyne plans on fielding four entries in the 100th Indianapolis 500 on May 24. One of those will likely go to Pippa Mann with the second full-time entry to be determined.
“We will have two cars the full season and we haven’t announced the second full-time driver yet and we are putting the final touches on the Pippa’s deal,” Coyne said. “Everybody asks me, ‘What do you do in the offseason?’ But that offseason is when you don’t sleep and worry all the time. Last year we thought we had a program and at the end of January it fell apart last year. This year we are happy to get this thing done now.
“We need more American drivers in this series and it’s great to have Conor fulltime and Bryan for the Indianapolis 500.”
Coyne believes Daly has potential but “only time will tell.”
“I think it is early days but he will do a nice job this year and finish in the middle of the field championship wise and he will learn a lot,” Coyne said.
Daly will have to wait until Christmas to find out if his mother sneaks a few gifts under the tree, however.
“This is truly the most meaningful announcement of my career,” said the son of former Formula One and CART driver Derek Daly. “After experiencing what I have in my career, especially the last three years, it is an incredible honor and opportunity to work with Dale Coyne Racing for a full season. To be able to go head to head and take the fight to other drivers every weekend is very exciting. I cannot thank Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group and all of Jonathan Byrd’s Racing’s partners enough for their effort in putting this program together. I am ready to get to work and try my best to outwork everyone else in the field every weekend to get results for this team.”