By: Tanner Watkins
January 30, 2019 | 9:00 AM
On Indiana’s coldest day in recent memory, Andretti Autosport and Conor Daly warmed our hearts and brought about thoughts of May this morning. The pairing have announced that the Noblesville native will take aim at the 2019 Indianapolis 500 with the Honda-powered team.
Daly, who turned 27 in December, will attempt to qualify for his sixth Indianapolis 500 in May. It will also be his fifth foray into Indy 500 competition while driving for Honda, despite never running for the Japanese brand’s most powerful IndyCar Series team – until now.
“I couldn’t be prouder to represent the Air Force for a second consecutive year at the Indianapolis 500,” said Daly. “I would not be here without the effort from everyone at Andretti Autosport to make sure this program is structured for success. It means a lot to see the commitment that Air Force has shown in me, and the chance to have a shot at winning the biggest race in the world.
“To be teamed with some of my best friends at undoubtedly one of the best teams on the grid is going to be a lot of fun! I’ve never had the chance to be on a team with multiple 500 winners so I am beyond excited to learn from them and ready to get to work,” Daly added.
Aligning with a partnership that began in 2018, Daly will be sponsored by the U.S. Air Force and is set to drive the No. 25 for Michael Andretti’s team. Today’s announcement also revealed that the U.S. Air Force will be an associate sponsor for Andretti Autosport throughout the entire NTT IndyCar Series season.
“This partnership closely correlates with how we fly, fight and win,” said Maj. Ross McKnight, Chief, Air Force National Events Branch at Air Force Recruiting Service. “We don’t send one aircraft to accomplish a mission, we build a strike package with multiple aircraft. The ability to sponsor Andretti Autosport’s five cars at the Indy 500 ties in greatly with how we accomplish our mission.”
“We’re really happy to welcome the Air Force to the Andretti family for the Indy 500 with Conor, and full season across all our cars,” said Michael Andretti. “Having five American drivers represent the team at America’s biggest race is very special and we’re proud to have the opportunity to pay tribute to the brave men and women of the U.S. Air Force.”
The release by Andretti Autosport also notes that this announcement “completes our all-American line-up,” which means it is unlikely that the team will bring on a sixth driver as they have done in the past.
In 2013, Conor debuted at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing with A.J. Foyt Racing before moving to a Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry in 2015 that flamed out during the parade laps. Since then he has raced in the Indy 500 for Dale Coyne Racing twice (2016 and 2018) and had a return run with Foyt as part of a full-season deal in 2017.
Through Daly’s five career starts in the Indianapolis 500 he has finished 57.7% of the total 1000 laps and has both an average start and finish position of 27th. Daly’s best finish in the Memorial Day classic came in 2018 when he finished 21st, one lap down.
The 2018 (and early 2019) racing calendar carried an assortment of duties for Daly as he raced in the Indy 500 in May, competed in Harding Racing’s No. 88 Chevrolet during the summer months, and drove in dirt midget sprint car races in September, December and January.
Header image by Chris Owens/INDYCAR.