Conor Daly spent his youth preoccupied with the Indianapolis 500.
It’s not hard to understand as his father, Derek Daly, was a six-time Indy 500 starter in the 1980s. The younger Daly was born and raised in Noblesville and graduated from Heritage Christian School.
“Every day I could get out of school early and go to Indy 500 practice, I would do it,” Daly said. “This event more than any other means more to me because it’s just something I felt connected to.
Daly’s ties to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway run even deeper as his stepfather, Doug Boles, is the IMS president. Boles and Daly’s mother, Beth, live in Zionsville.
Daly, 31, is expected to make his 10th start May 28 in the Indy 500. Daly said he was never certain he would have this many 500 starts.
“You just want to do as many races as you can,” he said. “Now, I want to get to 25 Indy 500s, because every year I feel like I learn something new. Every year it never gets old showing up here every day. It’s just the best feeling ever, and it’s just so cool to be part of.”
Daly is coming off his best 500 finish, placing sixth last year. His previous best finish was 10th in 2019. Daly led 40 laps in 2021 but finished 13th after his car suffered damage from a flying tire on the 118th lap.
“In 2021, it really felt like we had a car to win the race and that was like the first time that I really felt that before,” said Daly, who lives in downtown Indianapolis. “Then last year, I wouldn’t say we felt the same speed, but we were confident enough to be at the front. The Ganassi (Racing) cars were the fastest cars, but we were right there with them. So, it feels good every time I get here. I feel like I have enough experience to take advantage of the situation, no matter where we start, no matter where we’re at in the race. I feel like I’ve gained enough patience to be there at the end.”
Daly, who finished 19th in the May 13 Grand Prix, said the Carpenter Racing team does better at IMS than anywhere else on the IndyCar schedule.
“We’ve found what works, and thankfully for us, we haven’t had to stray away from that too much, so that’s good,” said Daly, who is in his fourth season with Carpenter’s team. “Everyone here for Ed Carpenter Racing has been quick the last few years here, so that’s been fun to be a part of.”
In February, Daly had the opportunity to compete in the Daytona 500 for Hall of Fame boxer Floyd Mayweather’s part-time NASCAR team. After needing some luck to make the field, Daly finished 29th.
“To be able to do the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 in the same year is a pretty cool group to be a part of, and the number of drivers that have done both in the same year is even smaller,” Daly said. “I’ve been very lucky to drive so many different cars that every time I get into something else, I think it does add to my package as a driver.”
Daly was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 14. The hard work to monitor his condition never goes away.
“I don’t want to ruin it for any other diabetics that are growing up trying to be racecar drivers by having some sort of bad experience out on the track,” Daly said. “I definitely find myself capable of doing whatever I need to do in my life while living with it.”