Daly: Indy 500 lead stint "proved we belong up there"

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Conor Daly believes his stint leading Sunday's Indianapolis 500 "proved we belong up there" before his hopes were dashed by a frightening wheel strike.

Daly: Indy 500 lead stint "proved we belong up there"

Daly and team-mate Rinus Veekay led a total of 72 laps at the 2021 Indy 500, the highest of any team, but after late mishaps, their team boss Ed Carpenter was the highest-finishing ECR driver in fifth.

VeeKay started his second Indy 500 on the front row and the winner of IMS's road course race, the GMR Grand Prix, seemed desperate to lead both Month of May races.

With polesitter Scott Dixon and second-placed Colton Herta happy to save fuel in the opening stages, the 20-year-old Dutchman took to the front and led the first stint until his first pitstop.

An unfortunately timed yellow during the first pitstop sequence removed several frontrunners from contention, including Ganassi's Dixon, while Daly vaulted from 18th to third.

Local hero Daly was the next ECR driver to command the race, leading 40 laps, more than any other driver.

On lap 119 Daly's fortunes changed when he was hit by a flying wheel from Graham Rahal's wrecked Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car.

Daly managed to carry on, but damage to his nose caused his car to understeer, and he fell back to 13th at the line.

"The reason we did not win was because of our front wing; after Graham Rahal crashed, a giant tire just fell out of the sky," Daly said.

"The car started understeering quite a bit, but it was nice to be out front in the first half. We proved today that we are capable and belong up there."

Conor Daly, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport Honda, Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing Honda, Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Conor Daly, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport Honda, Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing Honda, Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Due to a slow final pitstop VeeKay also lost touch with frontrunners Alex Palou, Patricio O'Ward and eventual winner Helio Castroneves, dropping him to an eighth-place finish.

"Leading over 30 laps today feels great," VeeKay said.

"I am very happy with how I did and being able to finish eighth. 

"I was leading in the first stint but we wanted to save some fuel so we worked with Conor to run second.

"When the last yellow came out, we fell a bit short and it didn't go our way. 

"Lady Luck wasn't on my side today but there are many more races this season and many more Indianapolis 500s in my future."

Read Also:

Team owner Carpenter also left the track pondering what might have been, fighting back to finish in the top five after finger trouble with his car at the first pitstop.

"On my first stop, I made a rookie mistake of stalling the car so we dug ourselves a hole," the 40-year-old three-time Indy polesitter explained. 

"The #20 SONAX Chevrolet boys kicked ass today in the pits and with the strategy. This one is all them.

“The car was good, but it was tough deep in the pack. It was great to be able to get back to the fight at the end and get a top five. From how it was looking earlier in the day, to take home a top five isn't a bad day. 

"It does still hurt losing this race and watching someone else celebrate. [But] I am happy for Helio; he is even older than me so it gives me hope still that I will keep coming back and chasing this thing."

shares
comments

Related video

What could have been: Germany's best hope of Indycar success?

Previous article

What could have been: Germany's best hope of Indycar success?

Next article

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status
Load comments
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indycar rookie Plus

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indycar rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in Indycar for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular team-mate Mauro Martini's passion for racing

IndyCar
Jul 14, 2021
The two key areas where Dixon needs to re-assert his authority Plus

The two key areas where Dixon needs to re-assert his authority

OPINION: Having been Chip Ganassi Racing's IndyCar focal point for the best part of a decade, Scott Dixon has been so far outgunned by new team-mate Alex Palou in 2021. After finishing behind the Spaniard at his traditional happy hunting ground at Mid-Ohio, Dixon has work to do to assume his traditional position in the team and the standings

IndyCar
Jul 6, 2021
The winners and losers of IndyCar 2021 so far Plus

The winners and losers of IndyCar 2021 so far

At the halfway point in the 2021 IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels?

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Plus

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, he explained his tactics

IndyCar
Jun 2, 2021
How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status Plus

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status

Helio Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears with the most Indianapolis 500 wins after edging past Alex Palou on the penultimate lap of a thrilling race that validated Michael Shank's faith in the veteran Brazilian - who is discovering that there is life after Penske after all

IndyCar
Jun 1, 2021
Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious at the Brickyard? Plus

Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious at the Brickyard?

A quarter of the drivers racing in the 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500 are former winners - but are they the favourites? The veteran drivers largely impressed in qualifying - but there's also a plethora of young guns looking to secure victory at IndyCar's flagship race...

IndyCar
May 27, 2021
What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1? Plus

What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1?

The FIA says it wants American drivers in Formula 1, but would it take an IndyCar driver to transfer or does an American need to join the European junior ladder system to get there?

Formula 1
May 19, 2021
Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life Plus

Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life

After spending the majority of his 179-race Formula 1 career in middling to tail-end machinery, Romain Grosjean finds himself once again with an underdog team in IndyCar. While not without its challenges, he's relishing the more level playing field that means his Dale Coyne Racing crew can expect to claim a few scalps...

IndyCar
May 14, 2021