Daly advances 13 positions throughout the race to claim exciting sixth-place finish for Carlin as the biggest mover of the Genesys 300.
A jam-packed day of on-track action at Texas Motor Speedway came to an exciting end as Conor Daly and the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet charged through the field for a sixth-place finish at the Genesys 300 after a frustrating qualifying session resulted in Daly starting in the back of the field in 19th.
The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season kicked off on Saturday, June 6th at Texas Motor Speedway with a one-day condensed schedule featuring practice, qualifying and the Genesys 300 all on the same day. The 2020 season was originally scheduled to start on March 15th on the streets of St. Petersburg but was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Texas Motor Speedway, normally host of the ninth round of the NTT INDYCAR Series, served as the 2020 14-race season opener.
The on-track action kicked off with a practice session for rookies and first-time participants before all cars were permitted for the final 80 minutes of practice. Single-car qualifying was held just two hours after the lone practice session ended with the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet fifth in the qualifying line. After all cars had their chance to qualify, Daly was slotted in at the 19th starting position after admitting that he felt that he had ‘under-drove the car’ and knew there was so much more to get out of the No. 59, while also acknowledging that the Carlin race setup was extremely strong.
The 200-lap race went green on Saturday night with Daly rolling off in 19th and immediately moving up five positions to 14th within the first 10 laps of the race. The team called Daly in on lap 36 for the first of many near-perfect pit stops by the Gallagher Carlin crew. The race went yellow for the first time on lap 38 when Veekay made contact with the wall resulting in contact with Palou and was back to green on lap 45 with Daly taking the restart in 11th. On the restart, he made up another position to make his way into the top 10 for the first time of the evening and the race stayed green until lap 77 when the yellow flag came out for debris on the track. Daly was back in under yellow for another pit stop and took the lap 86 restart in 11th. On the restart, he once again made up a position and was back into 10th where he stayed until lap 113 when he overtook Herta for ninth.
Daly was called in on lap 120 from ninth and after the pit cycle he had made his way into seventh. By lap 153, he had moved into sixth until he was called in for another routine pit stop. He rejoined the field maintaining his sixth-place position until he made a move into the top five before being called in for his final pit stop with 15 to go in the race. With only nine laps to go, Rosenqvist made contact with the wall bringing out the final yellow. The field was back to green with three to go and Daly took the final restart in sixth moving quickly into fifth before ultimately falling back one position to cross the finish line in sixth.
The sixth-place finish for Daly ties his best career finish with the Carlin INDYCAR team after he finished sixth in 2019 at Gateway and ties the team’s second-best finish (Toronto 2018 – fifth) in the NTT INDYCAR Series since their debut in 2018. Daly’s first race with the Carlin INDYCAR team was in 2019 at Texas Motor Speedway where he also qualified 19th and just barely missed out on a top-10 finish.
“It was an awesome night and I knew we had a great car in the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet,” said an understandably excited Daly. “I messed up a little bit in qualifying and just under drove it, but we made up for it with such a great race. The team had great pit stops, really incredible pit stops all night. The car was fantastic to drive and it really gave me the confidence to go forward. We made such a great improvement from last year. To be honest we probably should’ve been in the top five, but we just got a little loose in those last three laps and just couldn’t hang onto it. I was driving it pretty sideways for the final couple laps. I’m just super thankful to Carlin and Gallagher for giving me the opportunity to be here with the team and to be in the series. It’s such a great way to start out the championship.”
The Carlin INDYCAR team will be back on track on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday, July 4th for the second round of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.