Between 10 starts in the Indianapolis 500, six starts on the road course, and another in a GT4 entry in the 8 Hour Endurance race in 2021, Conor Daly has driven close to 5,000 miles in competition at the Brickyard.
Daly looks to add to that total Saturday, but this time it will instead be behind the wheel of a stock car. The 30-year-old Hoosier will make his fourth start across NASCAR’s three national series when he pilots the No. 44 Alpha Prime machine in the Xfinity Series Pennzoil 150 Presented by Advanced Auto Parts at the Brickyard.
Daly, who finished 29th at the Daytona 500 in the NASCAR Cup Series, and 18th at Mid-Ohio in the Craftsman Truck Series, will make his first Xfinity start since finishing 31st at Road America in 2018.
Daly’s best finish on the Indy road course came in 2022, when he finished fifth.
“Honestly it’s just cool to get into something here, I love this track, it’s been a great track to me,” Daly said Friday, Aug. 11. “It’s a completely different experience and I’ve gotten very few laps in an Xfinity car in my life, but it’s a cool opportunity. When you get hired to drive something, it’s very nice to do.
“[Alpha Prime] isn’t a top team, but they are a good group of people and it’s cool with them. I want to have a good race for them and give them a good result.”
With no budget for simulator time, Daly is coming into this experience completely cold, with his first-ever laps coming in Saturday morning’s practice. Fortunately for Daly, he is close friends with AJ Allmendinger, who more than knows the fast way around, with two wins on the road course and a seventh-place effort in his lone Indy 500 in 2013.
He also has a great teammate for the weekend in Sage Karam, who has two top-10 finishes on road courses in an Xfinity car, including two weeks ago at Road America, when he was leading the race into the final corners before coming home fourth in a wild finish.
“Sage qualified really well here last year for the same team (11th), he’s a good resource to use,” Daly said. “It’s like Team IndyCar in some sense of the word since we have 20 Indy 500 starts between us, it’s kind of crazy to think about that. It’ll be fun to work with him, it’s going to be fun either way.”
Daly thought he’d be back this weekend in his No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing car, but those plans changed when the parties parted ways in early June. But that’s when Daly’s phone started ringing, and since then he has driven in races across several disciplines, including three more IndyCar races as a substitute for injured Simon Pagenaud at Meyer Shank Racing.
All things considered, despite adversity, Daly’s had a good summer.
“It’s been a good thing for me for the future, to look forward and to be driving other things has refreshed my own mind,” Daly said. “It’s not a bad thing at all, I’m very positive about the future and positive about what could happen. It’s nice to have options and to have some things on the table.”
With so many irons in the fire, could we see Conor Daly as a NASCAR driver?
“I have no idea,” he said with a laugh. “My goal is to continue making a living driving a race car, and we have to see what happens day-by-day.”
Practice for the Pennzoil 150 Presented by Advanced Auto Parts will take place at 9:30 a.m. EDT Saturday. Qualifying directly following the 30-minute session, with 42 cars competing for 38 starting spots. The green flag for the 62-lap event will fall at 5:30 p.m. EDT.
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