At 28 years of age, Conor Daly doesn’t really qualify as a young driver. After all, he has been racing in the NTT IndyCar Series since he made his debut in the 2013 Indianapolis 500.
But only twice during that time has Daly run the full season — in 2016 with Dale Coyne Racing and 2017 for A.J. Foyt Racing.
Daly certainly qualifies as an “up-and-coming” driver. He just needs a chance and he is getting it this seasonin a combined effort with Ed Carpenter Racing and Carlin.
Daly will share the No. 20 Chevrolet with owner/driver Ed Carpenter. Daly will drive the street and road courses, and wheel an additional entry in the 104th Indianapolis 500 in August. Daly will drive another Chevrolet on the ovals for Carlin Racing.
Other young American drivers who have a great chance to excel in this year’s Indianapolis 500 include NTT IndyCar Rookie of the Year Colton Herta, who won twice last year. Herta turned 20 on March 30.
Connecticut driver Santino Ferrucci, 21, was impressive in last year’s Indy 500, starting 23rd and finishing seventh to earn Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honors.
When the son of former driver and current team owner Bryan Herta won at Circuit of The Americas last year, he was a week short of his 19th birthday. The youngest winner in IndyCar history arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and was fast from the start.
After starting fifth, Herta’s high expectations disappeared when his gearbox failed on lap three.
“The biggest surprise is I got to watch another Indy 500. I was out on lap three,” Herta said. “It was really cool up until that point. Qualifying was amazing for me and super spectacular. To show up on race day, I wasn’t used to the spotlight being on me. It’s really rowdy with a lot of people there. It’s hard to stay focused, but I knew what to expect and it went beyond that.”
Herta’s co-owner is 23-year-old George Steinbrenner IV. Last year, they were at Harding-Steinbrenner Racing with engineering support from Andretti Technologies. This year, the No. 88 team works under the Andretti Autosport banner.
Steinbrenner likes to refer to his driver and team as “some laid-back, goofy dudes.”
That attitude helped the kid who is just a few years out of high school excel against some of the great drivers in the series.
“The rookie mistakes came along with it, but the speed was there so you can’t really ask for much more from a rookie season,” Herta said. “I was really happy with the way I performed, and the team performed and the crew guys. I’m happy to be with Andretti now and happy to have Harding and Steinbrenner with me and a lot of the crew guys as well.”
Herta now benefits from teammates Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Zach Veach and Marco Andretti. Plus, his father, Bryan, is co-owner of Andretti’s No. 98 Honda.
“It makes it easier,” the younger Herta said. “We have more cars to work with and more of a budget to work with. It’s pretty impressive what we did as a small team. But it is a big transition. There are more people at the factory and a lot of things we can do on the setup of the car and work on the car with.
“For me, the transition is fairly smooth because I already know everybody at Andretti from the years my dad was there and the two years I did in Indy Lights with them. It seems to be going smoothly for everyone.
“Realistically, if I cut out the mistakes, I would like to be in a championship position at the end of the year,” Herta added. “I would like to show up at the last race and have a theoretical chance at a championship.”
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