Updated at: 04/02/2013 3:05 PM
By JENNA FRYER
There will be another American, an Indiana native no less, in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
A.J. Foyt Racing announced Tuesday it had hired Conor Daly to drive the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda in the May race as a teammate to Takuma Sato. It will be the IndyCar debut for the 21-year-old, who grew up watching the Indy 500 from the grandstands.
"I almost can’t describe what it means to have the opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500," Daly said. "I have been to the 500 every year of my existence except for last year when I raced in Monaco. It is truly my home race since I was born and raised in the Indianapolis area. I am so thankful that A.J. and Larry (Foyt) have given me my first shot at the greatest race in the world. I know this will sound cheesy, but I’ve never been happier in my life _ this race means so much to me."
Daly, who grew up in Noblesville, Ind., tested for Foyt at Sebring in December two days before he turned 21. He is the son of former Formula One and IndyCar driver Derek Daly, who retired before he was old enough to watch him compete but has steered Conor’s career.
Conor Daly spent the last two seasons competing in GP3, the European-based series which is often a stepping stone into Formula One. Daly has won in every series he has competed in, including GP3, Firestone Indy Lights, Star Mazda, and Skip Barber. He won national titles in the Mazda and Barber series.
But he’s had his eye on the Indy 500, especially since impressing Foyt in December testing.
"He ran well at Sebring when we needed someone to do some testing in the offseason. He was fast, smooth, and didn’t get in trouble," Foyt said. "When we made a change on the car he felt it. I found him to be very savvy on the chassis setups. In fact, when we made a minor change which was really nothing, he thought about it and said it felt no different. I told him that was the right answer because we didn’t do anything he’d be able to feel, so that impressed me too. I’ve run a lot of rookies at Indy and I think Conor will do a good job for us."
Daly will participate in the Rookie Orientation Program next week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Tristan Vautier, Carlos Munoz, and A.J. Allmendinger.
He must pass two of the three speed tests next week. Drivers must run 10 laps at 200-205 mph, another 10 laps at 205-209 mph, and finally, 15 laps at 210-plus mph. The drivers may complete the third phase during the first week of practice and must do so before attempting to qualify on pole day on May 18.
Conor Daly’s availability for the 500 came to the attention of the Foyt organization last November during the U.S. Grand Prix at Austin.
"I’m excited about bringing Conor to Indy for his first race at the 500," said Larry Foyt. "I’ve been watching him come up through the open wheel ranks, and when we met at the F-1 race in Austin, Texas last year, we hit it off immediately. Doing the test at Sebring confirmed he could make the step up to an IndyCar, and with my dad’s guidance, the potential is there for a great month of May."
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)