Like many racers, Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds a special place to people’s hearts.
This holds true for those from the state of Indiana like Noblesville’s Conor Daly, whose morale went through the roof after Friday’s qualifying session.
Not only did the Ed Carpenter Racing driver tally a strong qualifying effort, but he’ll roll off fourth for tomorrow’s GMR Grand Prix at the 2.439-mile road course.
The 30-year-old currently sits 19th in the NTT IndyCar Series championship standings and brought his inflatable “hot/cold tub” to IMS, hoping it would be a sign of good things to come.
Come race day, it’ll certainly be a wild card with some competitors seeing it as a red (Firestone compound) race and potential threatening weather.
In this case, starting in the second row was encouraging. All things considered, Daly’s 2022 campaign has been anything but peak with his best result being 12th at Long Beach last month.
Daly described his Firestone Fast Six qualifying effort where he just missed out on scoring his second career NTT P1 Pole Award.
Instead, that went to Will Power, who won his 64th career pole which puts him three away from tying Mario Andretti’s record.
“In the previous run, we had just given up a little bit out of (turn) 13 and we finally nailed it,” said Daly. “We were up on our best lap, but just one of those things where the tires are going off pretty quick. You have to nail it on that first lap and just tried getting a little bit too much from it. You’re fighting for a tenth of a second here.
“Being two tenths off Will for a pole position at Indianapolis, I mean, he’s one of the best to do it here. But it feels great.”
Daly added the efforts made by his No. 20 ECR crew are there as the organization hope to go back-to-back in the GMR Grand Prix after his teammate Rinus VeeKay won last May. VeeKay failed to make Round 2 of qualifying and start 15th.
“This team has done a little work for me, but I don’t think they’ve got the credit so far this year,” Daly explained. “We’ve not had a great start to the season but there’s a lot that’s not been our fault at all. I think this is where we want to be moving forward and it’s a great way to start May for sure.”
Team owner Ed Carpenter was confident that his two-car entries would do well and while it didn’t work out for VeeKay, he was elated for Daly.
“Conor has shown he can get it done here, so that’s nice. We needed some results with the No. 20 car,” said Carpenter. “He’s a guy that needs the boost and I’m happy for him. Hopefully, he can carry it through tomorrow.”
With Friday’s conditions being warm, cold water with some ice sounded “delicious” for Daly as he hopes to deliver a much-needed strong race result.
Above all else, Daly desired a great finish especially after being eliminated from the fight last year early on in turn 1, finishing 25th.