Cool conditions should boost action at Gateway, says Daly

Conor Daly believes this Saturday evening’s IndyCar round at WorldWide Technology Raceway will be full of action, despite passing being “challenging”.

Cool conditions should boost action at Gateway, says Daly

The 1.25-mile course is shaped like a Mike ’n’ Ike candy, with the tighter-radius Turn 1-2 sequence set at 11 degrees of banking, and the wider radius T3-4 at nine degrees, and has seen a mixture of superb and mediocre racing since its return to the IndyCar calendar in 2017.

Daly, who will take over the #59 Carlin-Chevrolet from Max Chilton, as he has for all non-Indy 500 ovals since May 2019, was asked by Motorsport.com if the up-and-down nature of the track action at WWTR was due to track temperatures – and if so, did IndyCar need to change its short-oval package.

“I'm not entirely sure, to be honest,” said Daly, who scored a fifth for AJ Foyt Racing at this track in 2017, and has brought home three more top tens there for Carlin. “I think in general with these cars right now, it is tough to race, for sure.

“I think no matter what, across the board, we've seen some good races. There's definitely a lot of overtaking going on, but it's challenging. Iowa, there's passing it feels like everywhere. But Texas and Gateway, very different tracks. Texas was tough to pass for some people and Gateway has always been hard to pass, I think.

“I don't know what there is to do. I think a night race always helps. I think that will generate a better race for us.

“Other than that, I'm not really sure if there is a right answer for that question, you know what I mean? Unless there's something that we can do to generate either a bigger draft or a more aggressive kind of slingshot.

“But, right now, I expect it to be a good race. What is your definition of good race? You know what I mean? That's kind of where we're at right now.”

Daly said that the track, that is located roughly where Madison, IL, and St. Louis, MO, meet across the Mississippi River, and has become a major hit with local fans due to promotion by title sponsor the Bommarito Automotive Group, is one of his favorites. He did, however, struggle to explain why the course clicks for him.

“It's one of my favorite tracks but I couldn't tell you why,” he said. “Ever since our very first test day with Foyt, where we were quickest, we kind of all looked at each other – ‘This is weird, not really sure why this is happening!’

“I love racing there. Love the way that track challenges us as drivers and challenges these cars.”

He later added: “I like fast corners on road courses. There's something about that level of commitment and kind of how that track feels. It's not a typical oval. [Turns] 3 and 4 sort of is, but 1 and 2 is where all the time is really made… The way you kind of enter the bowl of 1 and 2 is something that is cool.

“And the fact that you have, like, these road course curves at the apex of an oval is really, really interesting!”

Daly is aware he faces a heightened challenge this weekend, with the combination of driving for a single-car team and a schedule compressed into a single day – one 90min practice, qualifying and then the race.

Asked if it’s tougher as a racer in a one-car team on an oval or on road/street courses, he replied: “I would say more on an oval, only because you don't have your teammates trying some other things and because of how little track time we have. I'm the only one out there trying to make some changes.

“I would say in general a single-car team is tough. Yeah, it's just a lack of information that we get. I think we know what works in the past, right? But things change all the time now. It seems to be changing more aggressively and a lot quicker every weekend depending on the tire and depending on the conditions.

“The conditions with these cars right now affects so much depending on how hot and how the tires kind of take to that.…

“We hope it's a little bit consistent, sort of similar to last year. I know there was a test, but realistically there shouldn't be many changes that we need to account for.

Having said that, I'm sure something will be really random and something wild will happen, but it should be fairly straightforward. Ninety minutes to sort it out. If you can't sort it out, it's going to be a rough afternoon.”

Practice starts at 12.15pm local (Central) time, followed by qualifying at 4.00pm and the race at 7.40pm.

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