Harding Racing has announced today that American driver and fan favourite Conor Daly will be replacing their full-time driver Gabby Chaves for this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto; the twelfth race of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series.
Daly is still searching for an avenue to return to the Verizon IndyCar Series full-time after losing his ride with A.J Foyt Enterprises at the end of last season. Since then, he has raced in IndyCar only once, at the Indianapolis 500 in May; where he took the last spot on the grid for Dale Coyne Racing and went on to finish in twenty-first place.
Today’s news means that Daly will take to a street circuit in an IndyCar for the first time in just under a year; when he also took to the streets of Toronto. He has raced on the Canadian streets three times in his career, with a best finish of twelfth in 2015. His overall best finish in IndyCar remains his superb second place finish in the first race of the 2016 Duel in Detroit.
In reaction to the news, Daly took to Twitter to celebrate and to thank the team for giving him the opportunity to get back behind the wheel.
“I have a lot of respect for what Harding Racing has done this year as a new full-time team.” Daly said, “[I’m] Happy to be along for the ride this weekend in Toronto, one of my favourite races! [I] Look forward to working with the #88 guys and Chevrolet again!”
Daly’s appointment to the #88 for Harding Racing comes as somewhat of a surprise. The team’s usual driver, Gabby Chaves, had been contracted to race for the entire season. The team’s president, Brian Barnhart, insisted that Chaves was still under contract, but would sit out this weekend so that the team could assess whether or not to add Daly to the team in a second car for 2019.
“At this point in the season, we are focusing all our attention on the 2019 season,” Barnhart said yesterday, “If we can expand to a two-car team, all remaining races and testing will offer driver evaluation opportunities to determine who will become Gabby’s teammate in 2019.
“Gabby is still fully employed and still under contract with Harding for the remainder of this year and in 2019.”
Barnhart went on to admit that Chaves had not been overly happy with the news that he would be replaced for Toronto. However, Chaves is expected to return to the track for the thirteenth round of the season at Mid-Ohio on July 29.
The 2018 Honda Indy Toronto will take place this Sunday, July 15. Daly’s first laps in the #88 Chevrolet will come in first practice on Friday.