Conor Daly goes back to where it all began as he prepares for his second full season in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
The talented 25-year-old Hoosier raced in 2016 with Dale Coyne Racing, but will pilot the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet for AJ Foyt Racing this year, the same team he made his series debut with in a one-off effort in the 2013 Indianapolis 500.
On a scale of one to America, this could be the most patriotic team ever to grace the grid.
When looking at the legacy of A.J. Foyt, the four-time Indianapolis 500 champion is undoubtedly the perfect embodiment of an American racer and most certainly has a place on the Mount Rushmore of motorsports icons.
So it seems fitting that Daly, a vocally proud representative of the red, white and blue, now drives for the all-time winningest driver in Indy car history.
The son of former Irish Formula One and Indy car driver Derek Daly was all smiles after learning he is the first driver born in the United States not named Foyt to pilot an Indy car full-time for the 82-year-old Texan since Jeff Ward in 2000.
“It's pretty cool, man,” Daly said. “I think that really the whole American package that we’ve put together, … it's about as free as you get. It’s going to be pretty cool to be waving that flag. I don't know how we can do it, but when they asked me about my merchandise for this year, all I said was patriotic – so make it whatever that would be.
“So it's cool to be a part of it and to just be an American and have ABC Supply in the red, white and blue. … It's just so recognizable So for me to be a part of that family is really cool and just carry the flag.”
Despite never having the privilege of watching Foyt, the seven-time Indy car champion, compete during his 40-year career, the 2010 Pro Mazda champion has enjoyed listening to the stories and witnessing the passion from his boss.
“We spent four or five days down there (at the shop in Waller, Texas) and just hearing from him every day, there's always something new that you're hearing and there's always something that's described in such a detailed way from 1971 or something where it's like, ‘Wow!’” said Daly, who finished a career-best second in the opening race of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix last year.
“You know, it was so different back then that you can tell he was so hands-on, he wants to win so bad and he wants to do everything to beat everyone else so badly. There's so many stories of stuff that’s not what we would do nowadays because it would make sponsors mad or upset people, or certain partners, but you know A.J. didn't care.
“It was just one of those things that he just wants to win. It was cool to hear how dedicated he is because he still feel the same way now. He's really excited about what we're putting together, the people we've got together and the Chevrolet package, so it's cool to be able to have him on our side, we’ll say.”
Daly, whose teammate is fellow young gun Carlos Munoz in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevy, admitted that listening to the racing icon’s stories and viewing all of the trophies in the shop has put added motivation to put AJ Foyt Racing back into Victory Lane.
“It really does make you want to win things for him,” Daly said.
“You see all these trophies and pictures and all these wonderful pieces of history of racing, and it's like, ‘Man, I want to add to this cool trophy box’ or basically the entire shop of history, which is really, really cool.”