INDIANAPOLIS — After dealing with numerous pranks throughout his time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Conor Daly’s bad luck finally held off as the Noblesville, IN native earned his best finish in the Indianapolis 500 with a sixth place on Sunday (May 29).
Daly started 18th and pitted early to get on fresher tires earlier than his competitors. The strategy worked, moving the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet up to 13th after the first cycle of green flag pit stops.
After pitting again on lap 68, the 2010 Indy Pro 2000 champion then had a very lucky yellow flag come out two laps later when Callum Ilott hit the turn 2 wall. Only Daly and Dixon had made stops among all of the cars in the top half of the field, and neither car went a lap down. That allowed Dixon to resume his old position in the lead, while Daly leapfrogged several cars to go into second place.
Daly then took the lead momentarily, and all seemed right with the crowd.
Conor Daly to the lead! The @IMS crowd goes WILD. #Indy500
📺: NBC and @peacockTV pic.twitter.com/HO9nwqpX7P
— #Indy500 on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) May 29, 2022
“Man it was just so fun,” Daly said on pit road after the race. “I love racing here against guys like Scott (Dixon) and Pato (O’Ward), and I mean those guys are just good guys and the team did a great job. I think we did all we could today.”
As the race progressed, Daly remained in the top five and even led seven laps, but it was the last pit stop of the race that set everything up for the finish.
Daly entered the pits for his final stop in third place, running a few seconds behind race leader Scott Dixon. However, Daly’s right rear tire changer had an issue getting the old tire off of the car, costing Daly about one and a half seconds on pit road. After the entire pit stop sequence ended, Daly was in sixth place, but he lost that spot to Simon Pagenaud shortly before Jimmie Johnson‘s accident that brought out the yellow and subsequent red flag.
After the restart with two laps to go, Daly got by the 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner for sixth place and kept that position as Sage Karam brought out the caution on the race’s final lap with a crash exiting turn 2. The running order was frozen to the finish line.
“To get to the front again, that’s what we wanted, to lead the race, that’s what we wanted,” Daly said. “That was our goal. I mean, what else can you do? Try to just keep yourself up front all day and then hopefully end up with trophies, but not this time, but I think we’re getting closer and closer.”
Daly’s sixth place finish in the 500 winds up a month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that elated one of IndyCar’s most popular drivers. Two weeks ago at the GMR Grand Prix, Daly started fourth in a race that had changing conditions on multiple occasions and an ill-handling set of tires that dropped Daly through the field early in the race before another pit stop.
Daly climbed through the field once new tires were fitted to the car and he finished fifth, his first top five finish since 2017.
With both results at Indianapolis, Daly jumped from 19th to 12th in IndyCar points, just four points behind Alexander Rossi.
The NTT IndyCar Series heads to Detroit for the Chevrolet Grand Prix next Sunday (June 5) at Belle Isle. It will be the final race at Belle Isle before a new downtown street circuit is utilized starting in 2023.
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