18 April 2015
IndyCar: Daly steps in for Moran at Dale Coyne
Conor Daly will drive the Dale Coyne Racing #18 in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach after Rocky Moran Jr. was forced out by injury.
Dale Coyne Racing has been forced to make its second driver change in as many days, after Rocky Moran Jr. was revealed to have suffered a broken thumb during Friday's practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The injury was sustained when Moran made contact with Andretti Autospot's Carlos Munoz midway through the second of yesterday's two 45-minute sessions. The two cars made contact and Moran ended up in the wall at turn 1 to bring out the only red flag of the day's track activity.
While Moran took no further part in the session, it was only revealed on Saturday that the 35-year-old Toyota Formula Atlantic veteran from California had actually broken his thumb in the accident, which meant that he would be unable to make his début in the Verizon IndyCar Series after all.
Only hours before, Moran had been announced as a late-notice replacement for Dale Coyne Racing's regular driver Carlos Huertas. No reason was given by the team as to why the 23-year-old Colombin driver would not be racing for them this weekend or when - or if - he might return to duty. However, team owner Dale Coyne himself commented to reporters that the late change had been made "for business reasons."
Sadly for Moran, who has wanted a chance of racing in IndyCar for a decade, his big break lasted barely 24 hours before coming to a painful end with his hand injury, leaving the team scrambling around the paddock at Long Beach for someone able to take over the race seat of the #18 at extreme short notice.
Just half an hour before the start of the final practice session leading in to Saturday afternoon's qualifying, the team announced that Conor Daly had agreed to step into the #18 and compete for DCR.
Daly, 23, is the son of Irish former F1 and Champ Car driver Derek Daly and is a three-season veteran of the GP3 Series as well as a year in GP2 with Venezuela GP Lazarus in 2014. Daly, who was born in Indiana, made his IndyCar Series début with AJ Foyt Enterprises with a one-off entry in the 2013 Indianapolis 500.
Daly also has experience of racing on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street course in Long Beach thanks to a season in Indy Lights with Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2011. However, this weekend will be Daly's first taste of this or any street/road course in an IndyCar.
Daly was last in an IndyCar in February when he tested with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at Sebring International, but he was not able to clinch a race deal in the series for 2015 ahead of the season opener at St Petersburg two weeks ago.
However, Daly has been working as the driver of the two-seater version of the IndyCar used to give rides to competition winners, celebrities and VIPs over the course of an event weekend, which is why he was present in California and available to step in at DCR at short notice.
"It's a shame to see Rocky break his [thumb] like he did, but this is why I bring my stuff to the track every week and this is why I'm here and this is why I'm ready," Daly said, insisting that he had no plans to set the world on fire in his unexpected appearance on the grid. "We're here to learn. At least I've been on the track this weekend [in the two-seater] so I should be ready to go and excited for it.
"I've always wanted to race on a road course, and especially here at Long Beach," he added. "I can't thank Dale enough for the call. To be able to get out here and do some laps and get in the game. We'll see what happens, but I'm excited for the opportunity."
Daly will now participate in the final 45-minute practice session on Saturday morning at 10am local time (6pm BST) ahead of qualifying, which will get underway at 2pm (10pm BST).
There will be an additional half hour warm-up session on Sunday morning ahead of the race itself which gets the green flag just after 1.30pm (9.30pm BST).
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