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Conor Daly handed Indy 500 chance
2 April 2013
Conor Daly will be biding to make the starting grid of the 97th Indianapolis 500 this May, after AJ Foyt Racing selected the 21-year-old American, son of Irish former F1 and Champ Car driver Derek Daly, to fill the seat of the team's second car alongside former F1 driver Takuma Sato.
“I almost can't describe what it means to have the opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500,” said Daly, who will be behind the wheel of the team's #41 ABC Supply Honda. "It is truly my home race since I was born and raised in the Indianapolis area. I am so thankful that AJ and Larry have given me my first shot at the greatest race in the world.
"I know this will sound cheesy but I've never been happier in my life; this race means so much to me," he added. "The Indy 500 is part of my life; I love everything about the month of May."
The rumours that Daly was in the frame for an Indy 500 run started when he tried out with the team last December at Sebring International Raceway. But the demands of competing the mandatory rookie orientation program together with full a week of practice before a weekend of qualifying means that Daly will not be able to compete in the GP2 Series race weekend at Monaco or the preceding GP2 and GP3 weekend at Barcelona.
Daly competed in GP3 with Lotus last year and had been expected to return to the series in 2013 - at least, until his successful début in the GP2 Series last month in Malaysia with Hilmer Motorsport, which made it seem more likely that he would step up to the feeder series instead. That is, until the Indy 500 offer from Foyt trumped them both.
“I have been to the 500 every year of my existence except for last year when I raced in Monaco [in GP3]," explained Daly. "In my early years I spent most of my time at 'Racing Babies' under the Tower Terrace suites watching the races because my whole family was busy working the race weekend.
"When I got older, no matter how hot it was I was always sitting in the front row of one of my Mom's Tower Terrace suites watching every single lap of the race," he added.
With the Indy 500 firmly in his blood, it's no surprise that even the bright lights of Monaco can't complete with the opportunity to join the field of 33 at this year's event.
Almost as delighted with the news was Conor's father Derek, who is now his son's manager. "With AJ and the engineering talent within the team it will be an ideal learning environment for Conor," said Daly, himself a veteran of six Indy 500 races between 1983 and 1989.
And Conor's ears will be burning after hearing the glowing praise being heaped on him by none other than motor racing icon AJ Foyt, who has himself won the Indy 500 four times in his career.
"He ran well at Sebring when we needed someone to do some testing in the off season. He was fast, smooth, and didn't get in trouble," said the 78-year-old team owner. “When we made a change on the car he felt it. I found him to be very savvy on the chassis setups.
"When we made a minor change which was really nothing, he thought about it and said it felt no different," he added. "I told him that was the right answer because we didn't do anything he'd be able to feel, so that impressed me too."
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