Daly Fills Schedule Gaps with Carlin

Conor Daly will drive a full NTT Indycar Series season after all. Carlin Racing announced today that Daly will drive the 59 car on all the ovals except Indianapolis in place of Max Chilton, who will drive on the road  and street courses. In 2019, Daly also raced the ovals for Carlin. His best finish was 6th at Gateway.

Daly will race the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 and the road and street courses for Ed Carpenter Racing. It had been rumored after he signed with ECR that running the other ovals for Carlin was a possibility.

I’m sure there is a no information sharing agreement in place. While I am happy that Conor will be in all 17 races, this move doesn’t help ECR teammate Rinus VeeKay on the ovals. It also takes some seat time away from another driver looking for some work. But it is a good deal for Carlin. Daly usually makes any car he gets in better.

Carlin also announced that Felipe Nasr will drive car 31 at the St. Pete opener this weekend.. Nasr, a former F1 driver who currently drives for Action Express in the IMSA Weather Tech Series, turned the fastest lap on the first day of testing at Sebring last week. Nasr will likely be in more races this year, but will not run the full season. His entry keeps alive the streak of at least one Brazilian driver in an Indycar race which began in 1999. I still fear that streak may end at some point this season.

Daly Happy to Have a Steady Ride

 Note: Thoughts are with NASCAR driver Ryan  Newman  who was seriously injured in a crash at the end of the Daytona 500 last night. The latest report at just after 10 pm last night said he is in serious condition with non life threatening injuries. Please keep Ryan and his family in your thoughts.

NTT Indycar Series teams needing a driver replacement won’t have the series’ supersub available this season. Conor Daly will drive 13 races for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, competing in all the road and street races plus the Indianapolis 500.  In 2019 Daly drove in seven races for three different teams.  Daly drove full time for Dale Coyne in 2016 and A. J. Foyt in 2017. Those two season account for 33 of his 46 Indycar starts. While this season is not full time, Daly is glad to be with the same team for all his races in 2020.

While Daly feels more pressure, he feels the season long assurance will help in the long run.  “I’m putting more pressure on myself, ” he says.”Something crazy may happen at St. Pete, but we’ve got another race coming up. That’s so nice; you forget how good that feeling is.” Daly is thankful for the U.S. Air Force support, which began on a limited basis in 2019.

Daly says he is not a huge fan of the aeroscreen, citing vision and cooling issuesas his main concerns. He thinks he may have to raise his seat to see. “There are issues we won’t really know until we do testing with everyone.”

It is rare for him to have races before Indianapolis, Daly notes. At the moment his focus is on the St. Pete opener. He plans to work even harder this year. “It’s nice to have more chances,” Daly said.

Of the three rookies driving in the NTT Indycar Series this season who came directly from Indy Lights, Daly said that it shows the drivers in the Road to Indy ladder that getting to Indycar is not impossible.

After seeing how Daly performed in good equipment at Indianapolis in 2019, it will be interesting to see how he does with another team that has shown consistent competitiveness at the Speedway. I also look for Daly to help improve ECR’s road course program.

Hinchcliffe Gets Funding; Looking for Ride

James Hinchcliffe has the funding to run the Indianapolis 500 and possibly afew more races. Thanks to Genesys, a technology firm providing cloud services, he now has the money to take to a team. But which team? I assume he would want one of the Honda teams.  Andretti is full as they already have seven cars for Indianapolis. The other Honda teams, Ganassi, Coyne, and Rahal, are possibilities. I would think either Coyne or Rahal would be more likely than Ganassi.

The news comes just two months after Hinchcliffe was told by Arrow McLaren SP that he would not be driving for them. The team signed Pato O’Ward and rookie Oliver Askew and  for the 2020 season. Hinchcliffe still has a contract with the team and will do personal appearances on their behalf. My understanding is he can still drive for another team.

I have to give Hinchcliffe credit for working hard to secure the money needed for the 500 in just two months. Some drivers work on this aspect of racing all year and come up short. Hinchcliffe qualified 32nd and finished 11th in 2019. He failed to qualify in 2018. The sponsors will announce further details at a later date.

Hinchcliffe is one of the most popular drivers in the NTT Indycar Series. It’s great knowing he will be at IMS during May.

Indycar at the Chili Bowl

Indycar has its best representation at the Chili Bowl in several years. Santino Ferrucci, James Davison, and Conor Daly are entered in the week long midget event in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Daly drives for the first time tonight.

Ferrucci did well in his first ever midget event. He started 11th and finished fifth, just one spot short of transferring to that evening’s feature round. Davison was 10th in his debut last night.

The Chili Bowl finals are on Saturday night from 8:30-11:30 Eastern Time on MavTV.

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.