Conor Daly secures 2018 Indianapolis 500 seat with Dale Coyne and Thom Burns

American driver Conor Daly has secured a ride for this year’s Indianapolis 500. Conor will drive a third Dale Coyne Racing Honda in the famous Memorial Day Weekend race, with the team partnering up with Thom Burns Racing to field Daly’s #17 car with sponsorship from the United States Air Force. The team also revealed a digital render of the #17 USAF car that Daly will pilot as a part of today’s announcement.

Daly, who is highly rated by Verizon IndyCar Series competitors and fans, was unable to find a full-time seat for this year after being dropped by A.J. Foyt Enterprises. He will now be hoping that his ride in the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 will put him firmly back on the market for a full-time ride in the future.

“It is an honour to have the opportunity to represent the Air Force at the Indianapolis 500,” Daly said in a statement from Dale Coyne Racing today, “Memorial Day Weekend is an incredible time of appreciation for those who serve our country. I can’t thank Dale Coyne enough for having me back on the team and Thom Burns enough for bringing this program together with the Air Force to give us a fighting chance at the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.

“In conjunction with an incredible team of people at Dale Coyne Racing that I’ve had the pleasure of working with before, I think we will have a great opportunity to shine.”

Conor made his full-time Verizon IndyCar Series debut with Dale Coyne Racing back in 2016. He took five top ten finishes in his rookie season, including a best finish of second place in the first duel race at Detroit. He ended the season in eighteen places in the standings, one place ahead of fellow rookie Max Chilton, but seven behind Alexander Rossi.

For his sophomore season, Daly moved from Dale Coyne to race with A.J. Foyt. However, the move wouldn’t see an upturn in results. Daly would once again take eighteenth in the standings, with four top ten finishes, but the results were not enough to keep him on the grid. Instead, Foyt would opt for a fresh line-up of Tony Kanaan and Matheus Leist for 2018.

Credit: Dale Coyne Racing press release

Daly was unable to find another full-time ride for this season, instead, switching his sights on securing a part-time ride. His return to Dale Coyne Racing, with help from Thom Burns Racing, will be welcomed by his many fans, who were disappointed when Daly lost his ride.

“We’re very happy to have Conor Daly back with us for the Indy 500,” commented team owner Dale Coyne. “Conor has done a great job for us in the past and we hope to continue that this year at IMS. We also very much look forward to working with Thom Burns Racing and we’re extremely pleased and honoured to be partnered and representing the United States Air Force.”

Dale Coyne will work with the newly established Thom Burns Racing to field the #17 car for Daly. Thom Burns has long been involved with the Verizon IndyCar Series through numerous partnerships with teams and drivers. Perhaps his most prominent involvements came with 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Lazier and that year’s series champion, Scott Sharp.

Burns said after today’s announcement that he is honoured to be working with the United States Air Force on the #17 car, particularly as the race takes place on Memorial Day Weekend; the time when the United States commemorates servicemen and women who have made and continue to make sacrifices to protect their nation.

“We’re thrilled to announce our partnership with Dale Coyne Racing and with the United States Air Force and to be back at Indianapolis again in 2018,” Burns said. “It goes without saying that the Memorial Day Weekend is a very special time, and for many reasons. The Speedway has always been my dream and to bring an American icon like the Air Force here for Conor Daly gives me great pride. The Air Force helps to protect our freedom so that we can have the ability to participate in ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ the Indianapolis 500.

“It is our duty and privilege to assist with the recruiting efforts of the Air Force. Potential recruits will not only find us on the track but out in the community, as well, as we build awareness of the tremendous career opportunities that the Air Force provides.”

Conor Daly’s first on-track action in the #17 Dale Coyne with Thom Burns Racing Honda will be on May 15; the first day of practice for the 2018 Indianapolis 500. Qualifying will take place on the following weekend on May 19 and 20, with the 102nd running of the 500-mile race being run on May 27.