Conor Daly overcomes tough week to make Indy field

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A grueling month of May for rookie driver Conor Daly got better on Sunday as he was able to make the field for next weekend’s Indianapolis 500, sticking his No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing Honda on the inside of Row 11. Daly put up a four-lap average of 223.582 miles per hour in the opening stages of second-day qualifying this afternoon.

“We are IN the big show. The 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. It wasn’t pretty how we got it done, but LETS GO RACING! Dream come true,” the Indiana youngster tweeted on Sunday evening.

Getting into the “500” had to be a moment of relief for Daly, who nearly flipped over during a frightening crash in practice last Thursday (the first of the month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway) and then was unable to complete a qualifying run on Pole Day because of a broken exhaust header on his car.

“I have to thank the crew for all they’ve done,” he said. “I think they had the car apart at least 15 times after the crash and the problems we had [Saturday]. We got the engine back about 8:30 last night, and they worked late getting it back in.”

Daly will have the biggest climb ahead of him on Race Day out of this year’s rookie class at Indy. Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz (second) and Team Penske’s A.J. Allmendinger (fifth) are up toward the front of the field for the start of the “500,” while Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Tristan Vautier (28th) will join Daly (31st) in beginning from the rear.

F1: Red Bull Racing confirms switch to Honda engines next season

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Honda will become Red Bull’s engine supplier from next season after the Formula One team confirmed its anticipated split with Renault on Tuesday.

The Japanese manufacturer will supply engines for 2019 and 2020, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hailed the deal as “an exciting new phase” in the bid to return to the top of F1.

“After careful consideration and evaluation, we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team,” Horner said in a team statement. “We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our (feeder) team Toro Rosso.”

It is a boost for Honda, which was unceremoniously dumped by McLaren at the end of last year.

Honda has started this season brightly as engine provider for Toro Rosso, and this may have been a key factor in Red Bull finally ditching Renault.

“Honda’s alignment with both Red Bull Formula One teams provides enormous potential,” Horner said. “Honda will have access to a wealth of data from both outfits, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing leading the way, and the opportunities for faster, more effective and more competitive development are doubled.”

The deal brings to an end Red Bull’s 12-year partnership with Renault.

Although relations became increasingly strained between the two parties in recent years, it was once a dream partnership as Red Bull and Renault won four straight drivers’ and constructors’ championships with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel from 2010-13.

During that glory era, Vettel and teammate Mark Webber won 47 grand prix. Since 2013, results have somewhat dried up and there have been only 10 race wins.

“We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit,” Horner said.

He was not always quite so complimentary about Renault. He has regularly and publicly criticized Renault’s reliability in recent years – although it has been hard to judge sometimes.

Red Bull showed good speed toward the end of last season when Max Verstappen won two races, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo won this season’s Chinese GP with a brilliant drive. The difference in speed between Red Bull and Mercedes appears less than before, although Ferrari remains noticeably quicker.

Verstappen’s form has picked up after a poor start to 2018, marred by crashes, and he has taken third place in two of the past three races.

Meanwhile, McLaren’s partnership with Renault has not been as successful as they anticipated after dropping Honda following three fruitless seasons together.

Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso has failed to finish the past two races and has yet to place higher than fifth. Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg has a best finish of fourth place.