Daly on the Podium in Houston

American Conor Daly made a return to the Firestone Indy Lights Championship in Houston this past weekend and ended up on the podium with a third place finish. It was a hard won third place however for Team Moore after some of the most unusual circumstances seen for some time. Indycar was returning to the Houston track around the Reliant Stadium for the first time since 2007. The track was unable to open on time Friday morning for practice as it was simply unsuitable for racing cars to run at speed. Before an open wheel car got on track it had become obvious that a severe set of bumps at the fast left hand turn one would literally break the cars. After a four hour delay, a temporary tire wall chicane was placed at the entrance to turn one and practice began. Daly was third fastest at the end of this first practice session.

“It will take me a little while to get used to the car but I’m reasonably happy with third place,” said Daly. “Lets see what happens tomorrow when the chicane is removed.”

Overnight a grinder was brought in but it was limited to being able to grind only 4″ from the troubled spot. Before cars even ran on Saturday morning for qualifying the teams voiced concerns that the repairs were also inadequate. It was decided that all three Road to Indy support series cars (USF2000, ProMazda and Indy Lights) should try the modifications. The bumps were so severe that the ProMazda series broke five engines during a short 10 minute session. The Indy Lights qualifying session was turned into a practice session with the grid to be formed according to owner points. That relegated Daly to starting 10th on the grid.

“It’s unfortunate that Team Moore put all of this effort in only to have qualifying cancelled,” said Daly. “We needed the opportunity to try to qualify amongst the fast boys. With a track as tight and bumpy as this, it will be difficult to come from the back.”

The race produced a series of incidents and mechanical failures which resulted in Daly inheriting the podium position from his team mate, Peter Dempsey, on the last lap. While Dempsey was visibly upset, Daly was glad to accept a trophy on behalf of team Moore after a bizarre set of circumstances and decisions.

“I just could not get off corners because of too much understeer and was fortunate to end up on the podium,” commented Daly. “This is a great team that was not rewarded enough for their efforts.”

Daly’s next races will be the final two races of the GP3 championship in Abu Dhabi in early November where the season championship will be decided.

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