Afterall, it was the Indianapolis 500 that was supposed to put Daly on the map. The 23 year old from Noblesville, Indiana was set to climb through the field, with the hopes of getting a top-ten finish driving for Schmidt Peterson Racing. On his second warm-up lap, Daly's race ended when a fuel cell leaked, causing a fire. I was so pissed at the luck he had! Watching it on the video screens was like watching a Barry Manilow news conference where he declared he was coming out of retirement, it made me mad!
But, everything happens for a reason. Sure, Conor did not run at Indy, but the way he carried himself was impressive. Many others would have taken to Twitter and tweeted a bunch of crap only to delete it later (Sage Karam, Helio Castroneves' sister, etc.). Daly attributed his misfortunaes to "the highs and lows of racing." That to me confirmed why he was my favorite driver. He could have thrown himself a pitty party for weeks on end, but he got on with life and moved forward.
Daly was also in the right place at the right time. With James Hinchcliffe out idenifitely after a scary crash, Sam Schmidt tapped Daly as his replacement for the two races in Detroit and, if things went well, possible future races. While the #5 car is solidly Hinch's seat and we all wish him a speedy recovery, Daly had to start off on the right foot and impress Indycar owners out there with a solid performance.
|Photo: Chris Owens / Indycar Media|
Race one was going great right up until the point Ryan Hunter-Reay ran him over on a restart, forcing Daly to pit for reparis. The replay shows that the field stacked up and it was one of those things, so it's hard to verbally harass RHR even though I wanted to at the time, but Conor had a solid top-ten finish ruined.
The second race was pure brilliance by Daly. Starting 10th on entrant points, Daly made some great moves and used strategy to inherit the lead. It was such a thrill to see the guy who got shafted one week earlier leading his first career race! I was so thrilled for the guy. But my emotions quickly gave way to the realization that he had a legitimate chance at a top-five and even a podium. Despite a penalty sending him to the rear of the field, Daly bounced back and finished P6.
This is all to say that Conor Daly has merritted a stern look for a full-time ride in 2016. Ryan Briscoe, who replaced Hinch at Indianapolis, will be tapped for the seat in Texas, with Daly returning in Toronto the following week. After that, who knows. But hopefully Daly gets the seat for more races and an opprotunity for 2016.
Who knows, maybe if there was a Taylor Swift car at every race, Daly would win the championship... :)
Let me know what you think!