Conor Daly, who scored the first podium of his career in only his 12th start, says that today’s result helped make up for disappointment last week in the Indy 500.
Daly, who got caught up in Mikhail Aleshin’s accident at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, paid credit to Dale Coyne Racing-Honda for calling “a beautiful race” strategy-wise this afternoon on Detroit’s Belle Isle.
The DCR team opted not to pit Daly at the end of lap 43 along with the majority of the leaders, but instead to try and get into clean air, run flat-out, and then make a late stop for a splash of fuel. The strategy worked perfectly, Daly taking over the lead when eventual winner Sebastien Bourdais pitted his KVSH-Chevrolet on lap 57, then leading for four laps before a splash-n-dash that saw him resume just three seconds behind Bourdais and four seconds ahead of Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya.
Said Daly: “This feels like a win. I can’t believe we were trying to go after Bourdais and defend against Montoya. I used to watch these guys here. It’s crazy.
“This is why you do it, to get on the podium. We made it this time and now we need to do it more.”
Daly commended Firestone, as he was able to not take tires on his final stop to keep it as short as possible. It meant his final set of tires ran 33 laps, just four of which were under yellow.
“Thanks Firestone – the tires lasted all the way to the end,” he said, “and it was amazing because they kept getting better! It was really awesome and that gave us a shot to fight for the top three.”
The bumpiness of the track, at which he last scored his first top-six finish last year, had taken its toll, Daly confessed.
“It was a lot harder than I thought; I’m cramping up all over,” he said. “I’ve got to get hydrated because it was a tough race and my thumbs are bleeding.
“But the car is good though so I’ll drive it like that any time. We were able to prove that we had a good car and this car has been good all weekend. It’s just sweet.
“We’ve been through a lot this year, especially coming off of Indy. That was such a punch in the gut. We had a great car there too.”