IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Conor Daly

AP
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, and continues with those who made part-time appearances this year. Impressing in just five starts for two different teams, in three different cars, was Conor Daly.

Conor Daly, Nos. 5 and 43 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda

  • 2014: GP2
  • 2015: 28th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 6th, Best Start 10th, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 12 Laps Led, 18.6 Avg. Start, 17.4 Avg. Finish

Here was a driver who could afford to feel aggrieved at the colossal amount of bad luck or limited opportunities that defined his 2015 season in both IndyCar and sports cars, yet still frequently overcame challenges when they presented themselves.

Daly and I were standing on pit lane on Friday practice at Long Beach, equally amused and disappointed we were both standing there rather than only me standing there, watching Daly in a car. Under highly abnormal circumstances, Daly got his chance the next morning following Rocky Moran Jr.’s hand injury and seized it for Coyne, in what was arguably the best 17th place finish in recent memory.

There was pure agony, and irony, when Daly’s “Fueled by Bacon Special” went up in flames – literally – on the parade lap of the Indianapolis 500. Afforded a mulligan, Daly then did everything he could do when called upon by Schmidt Peterson again to fill in for the injured James Hinchcliffe in Detroit and Toronto. He led in the rain in Detroit – conditions he usually thrives in – and also did his friend “Hinch” a solid at Toronto, paying homage with red gloves.

He’d only made five starts, but Daly’s season was in my estimation the 2015 equivalent of what Simon Pagenaud did for Dreyer & Reinbold and HVM in 2011 – best-as-possible success with late call-ups, worthy of a full-time drive for next year. Budget pending, of course.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.