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Daly confirms he’s out of Foyt seat for 2018

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A.J. Foyt Enterprises will have an entirely new driver lineup next season with Conor Daly joining Carlos Munoz on the sidelines going into the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

First reported by RACER.com, Daly also confirmed his exit from the team to NBC Sports Tuesday night, and then on social media Wednesday morning.

“Been in this difficult position before and will get out of it once again. Giving up will never be an option. More moments like this lay ahead,” Daly wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old American has had a roller coaster career but was beginning to gain a full foothold within IndyCar after a solid first full season in 2016 with Dale Coyne Racing where had one podium and several other top-10 finishes, and then rallied late in 2017 with Foyt in a year where the team changed its full driver lineup, engineering staff and engines and manufacturer going into the season. Daly posted the team’s best finish of the year with fifth at Gateway Motorsports Park, although was 18th in the final standings – same as he was in 2016.

Just Tuesday, Daly and friend (and roommate) Alexander Rossi returned back to social media from apparent filming of CBS travel reality competition series “The Amazing Race,” which hasn’t yet been confirmed by CBS or their teams. It’s understood the team progressed rather far in the series when the 30th season of that show debuts.

Unfortunately for Daly, while Rossi is locked into a multi-year deal with Andretti Autosport, he’s now set to begin his own next race to find one of the remaining seats on the grid, despite hints over the last several weeks he was still in the frame at Foyt. A logical landing spot could be the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing on road and street courses, with Carpenter in that car on ovals.

As for Foyt, Tony Kanaan and engineer Eric Cowdin were announced earlier this month and RACER indicated Indy Lights race winner Matheus Leist was the frontrunner to take over Daly’s seat.

Leist, a Brazilian teenager, won three times in a four-race stretch this summer including the Freedom 100 in Indianapolis. But he struggled with inconsistency throughout his rookie season in North America driving for Carlin; that being said, he told NBC Sports as early as Watkins Glen he was working on assembling an IndyCar budget for 2018.

Beyond Leist, there are other drivers have reached out to the Foyt team to inquire about the second seat.

Carb Day: Tony Kanaan is fastest in final practice for Sunday’s Indy 500

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Tony Kanaan wants to put legendary driver and team owner A.J. Foyt back into Victory Lane at the Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan took a big step toward achieving that goal in Friday’s final practice for Sunday’s 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

Kanaan was fastest of the 33-driver field, with a best lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval at 227.791 mph, more than 2 mph faster than the second-fastest driver, Kanaan’s former teammate, Scott Dixon (225.684 mph).

Foyt won a record-tying four Indy 500’s as a driver. It’s been nearly 20 years since he also won as a team owner in 1999 with Kenny Brack behind the wheel.

Marco Andretti was third-fastest (225.200 mph), followed by Sebastien Bourdais (224.815), Charlie Kimball (224.712), 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato (224.083), Will Power (223.942), Danica Patrick (223.653), Spencer Pigot (223.584) and Ed Jones (223.556).

Other notable driver speeds included:

* Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th fastest (223.219 mph).

* Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden was 15th (223.186 mph).

* Helio Castroneves, hoping to earn a record-tying fourth 500 win, was 17th (222.913 mph).

* Graham Rahal was 21st (222.526).

* Former 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was 26th (221.916 mph), followed by rookie Robert Wickens (221.821 mph), carrying the mantle for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with James Hinchcliffe having failed to qualify for the race.

* The biggest surprise was 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, who was 32nd fastest (221.374 mph).

We’ll have the full speed grid, as well as full driver quotes, shortly. Please check back soon.

Follow @JerryBonkowski