Has Daly Found a Home?

Today’s announcement of Conor Daly getting the road/street course seat in the number 20 car was the most positive driver news of the past seven weeks. It has been an off season of seismic changes in the NTT Indycar Series paddock. What a great feeling to see the news and smile instead of thinking “What?” Here are some of my thoughts about what this could mean for Daly and the series.

I can’t think of a better fit at ECR than Conor Daly. Both he and Ed have very strong ties to IMS and the series. The move strengthens ECR as Indycar’s ambassador team.

2020 will be the first year since 2017 that Daly will drive for just one team. He drove for multiple teams in 2015, 2018, and 2019.

I’m very happy the Air Force continues with Daly. They could not have picked a better representative.

We can call car 20 the Indiana car.

I hope Ed Carpenter will allow Daly to drive in other series as his schedule allows.  He had success in the Super Trofeo Series last year. Daly is willing to drive anything; I hope gets the opportunity.

I could see Daly at ECR for a few years. Next season may be a getting acquainted period, but it will be interesting to track Daly’s performance compared to Ed Jones’s and Jordan King’s in comparable events.

Daly should be a huge help to Rinus VeeKay in his rookie year in Indycar.

I have seen Daly drive in several series. It seems as the car he is in always improves when he drives it. The road/street course help he can give this team will be invaluable.

Daly may have an even better chance at the 500 in 2020 than he had last season at Andretti. He will get more attention at ECR since it’s a smaller team. Also, the team is really good at IMS.

Wild conjecture on my part: Is this hire a part of Carpenter’s succession plan? Is Ed contemplating giving up the ovals other than Indy in a year or two and letting Conor drive full time?

 

If nothing else breaks, I will be back Thursday with annual (okay first annual) podcast edition.

 

 

Daly Completes ECR Lineup

Photo: Daly’s US Air Force livery from last year

From Ed Carpenter Racing:

CONOR DALY COMPLETES ED CARPENTER RACING’S 2020 DRIVER LINEUP

This is a great spot for Daly. I’m glad the Air Force is still on board. I hope they keep the same livery he had last year. ECR should give him a decent shot at contending at the 500.  More thoughts later.

Portland Preview- Can Newgarden Clinch?

And then there were two. It’s hard to believe Sunday will be the next to last race of the NTT Indycar Series. Portland International Raceway hosts the race for the second consecutive year after a successful return in 2018.  CART race on the island track from 1984 until 2003. Champ Car then sanctioned the event for four more years. Indycar returned last year ending an eleven year absence.

There have been some close finishes at Portland. Mark Blundell beat Gil De Ferran by 0.027 seconds in 1997. Mario Andretti beat son Michael to the line when the younger Andretti ran out of fuel in the last corner. Most of the time, however, the victories have been decisive. Al Unser, Jr. beat Geoff Brabham by 39.61 seconds in 1984.

Takuma Sato, winner of last week’s thriller at World Wide Technology Raceway, won last year’s Grand Prix of Portland by taking advantage of a caution period to move into the lead. His 20th starting position was the farthest back a driver has won from at this track.

While one eye will be on the race itself, the other one will be looking at the championship. Josef Newgarden leads Simon Pagenaud by 38 points and Alexander Rossi by 46. I think it will take two very bad races by Newgarden for him to lose the title. Portland is Rossi’s last chance to go into the finale at Laguna Seca with any hope of capturing the title. Pagenaud has been lurking all year and took over second place last weekend. I wouldn’t count him out. Both Pagenaud and Rossi need help from Newgarden, however, and I don’t see Josef cooperating.

Portland’s festival curves have been the sight of many first lap incidents. Lastyear a five car pileup nearly cost Scott Dixon the title. He somehow got the car refired and after some repairs in the pits, he wen. t on to a fifth place finish. The flat course has some other areas to be wary of. Turn 11 can be tricky.

In 24 Indycar races at Portland, only four drivers have won the race from the pole. In 2018, Will Power won the pole, but a gearbox issue put him seven laps down and he fished 21st. Power is not having the best of seasons this year. Although he has a win and three poles, which would be a great season for many drivers, this year’s results are far below his typical season.

Rossi needs to win this race and i think he will.  Newgarden and Pagenaud could be having their own battle.  They are too good to ruin each other’s races. One of the issues I have with the double points in the finale is that it can widen the gap between contenders more than it can bring them closer. The points difference between points is wider, giving the points leader an advantage. As close as the points chase usually is going into the finale, double points in my opinion have never been a necessary thing to make a closer title fight.

Portland Spotter’s Guide

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/90591962/posts/2394022689

I will be on site in Portland with updates after each session and will also keep you posted on the Road to Indy championships.

Notes

Per Adam Stern, the 202 schedule could be released at the end of the week.  It appears Pocono will not return.  My thoughts on that when the announcement is official.

Who would have thought that there would be a season where Sato would have more wins than Will Power has?

Indycar now has two last laps to incorporate into next year’s commercials- the final lap at Mid Ohio and last Saturday night’s run off turn 4 to the checkered flag. I’m hoping for another promo worthy finish on Sunday.

Charlie Kimball has added Portland to his original five race schedule. He was originally sitting out this week and just running the finale in three weeks.

Reminder: The race is on NBC. The big network. You might need to make sure your DVR is set to record the correct channel.

Richmond Returns

As reported yesterday, Adam stern tweeted that Richmond Raceway will be on the 2020 NTT Indycar Series schedule. The 3/4 mile D shaped oval will be the shortest oval on the schedule. Iowa is 7/8 of a mile. I’m not sure how I feel about two short tracks of nearly identical length. It takes away some of the series’ diversity.

Late Breaking News

There are reports that Marcus Ericsson will be in Spa with Alfa Romeo this weekend instead of racing for Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Conor Daly will drive the 7 car at Portland.

There seem to be conflicting reports about whether Ericsson is driving or there in his reserve role. In any case this is a huge opportunity for Daly. ASPM will be the third team Daly will have driven for this season.

The statement from ASPM:

Daly Confirmed for Carlin Seat on Last Two Ovals of the Season

Carlin Racing announced today that Conor Daly will drive the 59 car at both the ABC Supply Co. 500 at Pocono and  the Bommarito Automotive Group 500k at World Wide Technology Raceway.  From Carlin’s Twitter page:

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Daly will have driven in every oval on the 2019 schedule. He drove for Andretti Autosport in the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500, finishing 10th.  Daly also drove for Carlin at Texas and Iowa.He finished 11th at Texas and 13th at Iowa. He finished fifth in 2017 driving for A. J. Foyt Racing  in the inaugural race at Gateway.

Daly will return to Andretti in the season finale at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca. His seven races this year is the most he has driven since his season with Foyt.

Daly Returns to Andretti for Finale; Some Other Tidbits

Photo from @FollowAndretti Twitter feed

The jaws are back. Andretti Autosport announced today that Conor Daly will drive the number 25 USAF car, the same one he drove in this year’s Indianapolis 500, in the NTT Indycar Series finale at Weather Tech Raceway.  In the 500 Daly started 11th and finished 10th. he ran as high as fifth during the race.

This season Daly has also driven twice for Carlin Racing- at Texas, finishing 11th after a 19th place start, and  at Iowa, where ended 13th from 16th on the grid.

I am glad Daly will drive for Andretti again this season. I was hoping he would be back in this car before Laguna Seca. Part of the reason I think the team is entering him in the finale is to serve as a point blocker to help Alexander Rossi get the championship. It would depend on where Daly qualifies, but it could help.

McLaren Closer to Indycar?

This Tweet from Adam Stern indicates some progress by McLaren toward the 2020 Indycar season. The engine issue and James Hinchcliffe’s contratc still seem like huge stumbling blocks. There is word McLaren is also after Colton Herta. I think there is still a lot of work to be done before we see orange cars  on the grid full time.

Third Car for Rahal?

In an interview with RACER magazine Bobby Rahal said this week that  a third car for Rahal letterman Lanigan Racing is closer than they’ve been before. The third RLL car has been a perennial Silly Season story.  I hope it finally appears at St. Pete next March.

More Indy Lights Drivers Test Indycar

Oliver Askew tested with Chip Ganassi Racing at Portland International Raceway yesterday. The CGR team was impressed with his performance. Rinus VeeKay also tested for Ed Carpenter Racing the same day at Portland.

Andretti Autorsport Indy Lights driver Ryan Norman also tested for Andretti at Mid Ohio last week.

I don’t get too excited about Indy lights drivers testing with Indycar teams.  It’s great that they get the experience, but the tests have zero implications for future Indycar rides.

I’m thinking the hybrid engine may not be the last bombshell announcement of this Silly Season.  We need a race soon. Very soon.

Karam and Daly Driving for Carlin at Iowa

A tweet this afternoon from Carlin Racing:

I think this is could be the makings of a great team for 202 if the money is there.  Karam may still be tied to Dreyer and Reinbold for the Indianapolis 500, but he could possibly drive for Carlin the rest of the year.

I know Daly wants to drive for Andretti, but with the news that Rossi looks to be staying, there is no room for him except for an Indianapolis one-off.

Daly drove for Carlin at Texas and finished 11th. Last week at Toronto Karam drove the Carlin entry. He started and finished six laps down in 21st. It was his first road/street course race since 2015 and he had never driven at Toronto.  Karam has driven in the Iowa race.

Iowa will not have a title sponsor this weekend. According to Adam Stern, a couple possible sponsor deals did not come through. Stern also mentioned that ticket sales are up a bit.

Daly to Drive Car 59 at Texas

Photo from @CarlinRacing via Twitter

Yesterday Carlin Racing announced that Conor Daly will drive car 59 at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, replacing Max Chilton. Chilton, who failed to qualify for the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 last month, will not drive in any of the four remaining  oval races- Texas, Iowa, Pocono, or Gateway- this season, citing “risk management”concerns.

Daly drove for Andretti Autosport in the 500, qualifying 11th and finishing 10th. As of now, this is a one race deal with Carlin. Drivers for the other ovals will be announced later.

The Texas entry list:

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I believe it is a driver’s right to choose which races he wishes to enter.  Like Mike Conway, Chilton feels that ovals are not worth the risk to him.  I respect his decision to step out of the car for these races.