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Daly finishes 22nd after hectic Indy 500

The 2013 Indy 500 was the fastest in history. It also produced a record number of lead changes, 68, and at the end of 500 miles Brazilian, Tony Kanaan proved to be a popular winner. The AJ Foyt Honda powered team was masterful in dealing with several incidents during the day starting when lead driver, Takumo Sato, spun at turn two early in the race. American, Conor Daly, one of the most popular drivers in the pit lane, finished 22nd in his ABC Supply Dallara Honda after hectic and unusual pit stop action.

Because Daly had not completed any race simulation running during practice days, the team elected to start his car with a heavy downforce setting. With as many as eight pit stops scheduled, there would be time to reduce the downforce levels if necessary as the race progressed.

Daly’s second pit stop became eventful when the fuel hose proved difficult to connect to the car. The fueler did all he could to connect and fill the car and his multiple tries resulted in a fuel spill that caught the car on fire. The team immediately jumped into protective action dousing the car with water to dilute the fuel. The flames licked out of the tank and down along the side pods. The resulting cleanup and refuel put Daly down one lap.

“There was a lot of shouting and water flying and I wasn’t really sure what to do,” said Daly. “I knew it was a long stop but I was focused on my right front guy and listening for orders on the radio.”

While on track Daly spent a lot of the race in heavy traffic with cars having different performance abilities depending on adjustments made during pit stops.

“My car was slow by itself but was pretty good and consistent in traffic” said Daly. “The speed of cars varied so much during the race. I spent a lot of time racing with Bourdais and during one of the stints the two Target cars were in our group. With faster cars I could somewhat hang on because of their draft but by myself I was flat all the way around but slow.”

During the next round of pit stops Daly lost his rear brakes. “I had my foot on the brake pedal during the pit stop and when one of the wheels was put on it must have cut something in the brake system because the pedal suddenly went to the floor”. commented Daly. “I wasn’t sure what to do or think but when I was waved out I just dropped the clutch and took off.”

Daly finished the rest of the race without rear brakes knowing that all future stops would be tricky. “The next time I tried to stop was a real handful. I could not slow the car down quickly enough at the pit lane speed limit marker point. I then felt like I was crawling to my pit but I was still locking the fronts on the wet ground as I pulled into my pit box – from then on I had to pump the brakes and slow down carefully so as not to miss the pit.”

During the last pit stop the team coped well with a second fire when a similar fuel leak ignited.

“The pit stops were all action but the team handled the incidents well and nothing took us out of the race. My fueler was a brave man to fight the flames and still do everything he could to fill the car. I was happy to finish and was still learning at the end of the race. It has been a great experience for me and I am so thankful that AJ and Larry Foyt gave me this amazing opportunity,” said Daly.

The race turned out to be dominated by the Chevrolet engined teams. Honda cars led a total of five laps but only because of pit stop sequences. Previously dominate teams such as Target Chip Ganassi were not a factor at any time during the race. Tony Kanaan proved to be a very popular winner with fans and drivers offering him congratulations on his victory laps.

Daly leaves for his home base in England on Thursday May 30th to prepare for his upcoming GP3 two day test in Hungary, June 5th-6th. His next races will be in Valencia, Spain, June 14th-16th. His next six weeks will be busy with a 2 day test and six races including the British and German Grand’s Prix, June 28th-30th & July 5th – 7th.

 

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