After arguably one of the more winding roads through both the American and European open-wheel ladders to get to a full-time seat, Conor Daly will finally have that opportunity in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season with Dale Coyne Racing.
Daly, who turns 24 on December 15, is Coyne’s first driver confirmed for 2016, and comes at a fairly early time.
The confirmation follows reports in the last week or so (Motorsport.com’s David Malsher first broke story) that Daly was close to a deal with Coyne, an IndyCar lifer who of course is notorious for late driver announcements.
Daly broke the news prior to an official announcement scheduled at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis.
The move sees Daly – who ran five IndyCar races in three different entries this past season (one with Coyne, four with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in two separate cars) – now solidified in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda after several years of bouncing around between IndyCar, Indy Lights, GP2, GP3, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and other championships.
It also gives Coyne a needed measure of stability on the driver front, after no less than eight drivers (Daly, Carlos Huertas, Francesco Dracone, Rocky Moran Jr., Rodolfo Gonzalez, Pippa Mann, Tristan Vautier, James Davison) were spread across Coyne’s two (and at the Indianapolis 500, three) cars throughout the 2015 campaign.
Daly, interestingly, is a rarity as an American driver for Coyne. Prior to him and Moran ultimately splitting the No. 18 car at Long Beach in one of the more bizarre weekends of the season, Coyne’s most recent American drivers were Geoff Boss (2003), Alex Barron (2000) and Dennis Vitolo (1997-1999).
Barron, like Daly, is an underrated driver but the other two were never going to be superstars.
Tristan Vautier, meanwhile, tested with Coyne at Road America in September and was a possibility to return for a first full season, after running the last 11 races of 2015.