Verizon IndyCar Series team, Harding Racing, has announced today that Conor Daly will remain behind the wheel of their #88 Chevrolet in this weekend’s 2018 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. The American will once again fill in for Gabby Chaves, who is still under contract with the team.
Daly, who had only raced at the Indianapolis 500 this year, was brought in for the Honda Indy Toronto to replace Gabby Chaves, with the team stating that they were looking at potential drivers for a second car for the 2019 season.
Conor had not raced in IndyCar on a street course in over a year when he got the call-up to race for Harding. However, this hiatus did not slow him down. Despite the tricky on and off wet conditions in qualifying, Daly took Harding Racing through to the second round of qualifying, eliminating more experienced drivers such as Graham Rahal in the process. Ultimately, Daly would take the eleventh spot on the grid. From there, he would have a clean race and stay well out of the chaos around him, taking home a decent thirteenth place finish.
Daly’s performance over the weekend in Toronto was enough to earn him another shot. Harding Racing’s team principal, Brian Barnhart, commented today that Conor’s results in Canada, coupled with a decent run in a mid-season test at Mid-Ohio last week, was enough justification to put him back behind the wheel for this Sunday’s race.
“After the progress made during the Toronto race weekend, we had another successful outing in Mid-Ohio with Conor Daly,” said Barnhart. “Based on that and in the interest of continuity and moving forward, we are going to run Conor again this weekend for the Honda Indy 200.
Barnhart would go on to thank Gabby Chaves, who was initially displeased when it was announced that Daly would be taking his seat back in Toronto. Chaves had been contracted to race in every round of the 2018 season, but the team’s logic was that whilst the squad were not in the battle for wins or championships, it made sense to trial other drivers ahead of a potential expansion to a two-car squad for next year; a move that could see the team get closer to the front of the pecking order.
“We still appreciate Gabby’s cooperation and interaction because he is still very much involved with downloads, team debriefs and dialogue.” Barnhart added, “In our search for more information and improvement, this will be our direction for Mid-Ohio, with an eye towards the future.”
Conor, understandably, is delighted to be back behind the wheel this weekend. He has raced at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course twice in his Verizon IndyCar Series career so far, taking two top tens with a best result of sixth place whilst driving for A.J. Foyt Enterprises in 2016 and 2017. He took to Twitter shortly after today’s announcement to express his excitement, saying: “Looks like we can keep the show on the road for another weekend! Working every day to keep piecing more together. Let’s have some fun this weekend!”
The 2018 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio kicks off on Friday with the first two practice sessions. The cars will be back on track on Saturday for final practice and qualifying, with the ninety-lap race taking place on Sunday, July 29.