With countless INDYCAR fans clamoring for his appearance at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, those individuals finally got their wish this afternoon when Thom Burns Racing and Dale Coyne Racing formally announced that they will field a car in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 that will feature Conor Daly as their driver.
Serving as the primary sponsor for Daly and the joint Burns/Coyne entry will be the United States Air Force. It marks the first time that a branch of the United States military has appeared on a Verizon IndyCar Series car since the National Guard was featured on Graham Rahal’s machine in 2014.
Conor will pilot the No. 17 machine for the May-only effort, with Honda stepping up to supply the engine program. Sure to be a popular car on Memorial Day weekend, Daly cherishes the chance to drive for the United States Air Force.
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to represent the Air Force at the Indianapolis 500,” Daly said. “Memorial Day Weekend is an incredible time of appreciation for those who serve our country. I can’t thank Dale Coyne enough for having me back on the team and Thom Burns enough for bringing this program together with the Air Force to give us a fighting chance at the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.
“In conjunction with an incredible team of people at Dale Coyne Racing that I’ve had the pleasure of working with before, I think we will have a great opportunity to shine.”
In the partnership with Thom Burns Racing, Dale Coyne will add a third car to his Indianapolis 500 line-up with an expected fourth announcement with Pippa Mann to come in March.
“We’re very happy to have Conor Daly back with us for the Indy 500,” commented Dale Coyne Racing Team Owner Dale Coyne. “Conor has done a great job for us in the past and we hope to continue that this year at IMS. We also very much look forward to working with Thom Burns Racing and we’re extremely pleased and honored to be partnered and representing the United States Air Force.”
For Thom Burns, the excitement is palpable as he partners with a legitimate threat in Dale Coyne Racing for the month of May.
“We’re thrilled to announce our partnership with Dale Coyne Racing and with the United States Air Force and to be back at Indianapolis again in 2018,” co-entrant Thom Burns said. “It goes without saying that the Memorial Day Weekend is a very special time, and for many reasons.
“The Speedway has always been my dream and to bring an American icon like the Air Force here for Conor Daly gives me great pride. The Air Force helps to protect our freedom so that we can have the ability to participate in ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ the Indianapolis 500.
Daly joins the upstart Thom Burns Racing outfit in partnership with Dale Coyne Racing after a trying season with A.J. Foyt Racing in 2017. With the Chevrolet-powered team, Daly made 17 starts last season and recorded four top-10 finishes, including a stretch of 5th, 11th and 10th at Gateway, Watkins Glen and Sonoma respectively to close the season.
Prior to the 2017 season with A.J. Foyt Racing, Daly drove for Dale Coyne Racing for the full 2016 season, while splitting a handful of events in 2015 between Coyne and the Honda-powered Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. His best finish in the Verizon IndyCar Series was a runner-up effort at Belle Isle in 2016 with Dale Coyne Racing.
Over the past offseason, Daly competed on CBS’s The Amazing Race in the reality show’s 30th season. Alongside friend and Verizon IndyCar Series driver Alexander Rossi, the duo would finish fourth and make the final episode of the popular primetime television show. As it turned out, just hours after he was eliminated from The Amazing Race, Daly was notified that not only would he be without a manager, but that A.J. Foyt Racing was parting ways with him as well.
Daly had one season as a full-time driver with Foyt.
At Indianapolis, Daly has had a rocky history with the 500 Mile Race. In four starts, Conor has averaged a 26th place starting position while his average finish rounds out to be 29th. Ironically, his best finish in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing was with his former team, A.J. Foyt Racing, in 2013 where he placed 22nd while completing 198 of the 200 laps.
Images courtesy of INDYCAR Media and Thom Burns Racing.