INDIANAPOLIS – Conor Daly is assuming the longtime mantra of the United States Air Force as he embarks on his Month of May program with Andretti Autosport at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Daly is hoping to “Aim High” and “Fly-Fight-Win” in pursuit of his first win in The Greatest Spectacle in Racing during the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500, set for May 26 at the historic 2.5-mile oval.
The second-generation driver has the best opportunity of his career this month and turned his first laps with the six-time Indianapolis 500-winning organization during Opening Day on Tuesday, cracking the 225-mph threshold and quickly establishing himself as a threat among the front-running contenders.
Daly is carrying sponsorship from the Air Force and his No. 25 Dallara-Honda is dressed in the colors of one of the branch’s fighter jets, complete with shark-teeth war paint designs on the sides of the car.
It’s a partnership that the 27-year-old is relishing ahead of his sixth attempt to qualify for the Indy 500.
“It’s awesome to be able to represent the Air Force here during the Month of May. It feels extra special this year with this team, because their motto is ‘Aim High,’ and we’re aiming as high as we can with Andretti Autosport,” said Daly. “It’s just super cool to be out here with these guys. The car is just really nice to drive, and I think it’s pretty fast … which is something you appreciate a lot more after what I’ve gone through the past few years.
“I just can’t wait to keep going. The speeds are pretty high today, which is a lot of fun too,” Daly added. “I know I was trying to get in for a nice little tow lap, but no one really wanted to stay out on track … which I guess is typical for what I’ve been through here. It’s fun though. I’m super thankful, for sure.”
Daly got the opportunity to ride in the back of an F-16D Viper at Shaw Air Force Base in mid-April, an experience that he noted was “crazy” compared to what he’s used to in his Honda Indy car.
“Their jets are way faster than these, that’s for sure,” Daly noted. “We feel like we’re going pretty fast out on track, but to do nine Gs for eight seconds or whatever it was that we did … it sort of melts your brain and makes your lungs collapse.
“I feel great now in my car. We’re only doing three or three-and-a-half (Gs), but it was an incredible experience to go up with them and stuff I’ll remember forever.”
While Daly isn’t overthinking his return to Indianapolis, this time with one of the ‘Big Three’ organizations for the first time in his career, he is extremely motivated by the opportunity to carry the legendary Andretti nameplate during this year’s Indy 500 festivities.
“It makes you want to push extra hard, every day,” said Daly of driving for the Andretti team. “I’m already upset, because we weren’t further up the timesheets and I feel like we deserve to be up there and I think our car has the speed to be higher on the charts. We’re trying to work on a little bit of stuff running by ourselves, but it makes you frustrated and want to be up there.
“It’s just fun to work with them and go through the system,” he added. “There’s a lot to it and it’s nice to have access to this whole group and to be a part of it. We’re ready to push and fight up front.”