What's Next for Conor Daly?
With Foyt opting not to pick up his contract, the young American must once again face the open driver market.
Although AJ Foyt Enterprises has yet to officially announce who will partner Tony Kanaan for the 2018 Indycar season, they have confirmed that it will not be Conor Daly.
Despite the team as a whole struggling throughout the 2017 season, Daly, a 25 year old Indiana native, finished strong with three top tens in the final five races.
Daly's year end result may appear to warrant his sacking, but a further examination of the results yields a different conclusion.
Foyt as a whole struggled from the outset of 2017. Neither Daly nor his teammate, Carlos Munoz, were able to score a podium. More often than not, the team found themselves at the very back of the pack, the only Chevy team not to be competitive.
To put it simply, Daly's failure of a 2017 campaign is more than likely more down to a bad car as opposed to being blamed on the driver himself.
So where does Daly go for 2018 if he is to remain in Indycar?
While there are still many seats open, there are two seats that are of particular interest for Daly.
Daly at Gateway earlier this year. Photo Credit: Motorsports.com
The first option is to take the so called 'road track car' for Ed Carpenter Racing. As he has done for several years now, driver/team owner Ed Carpenter will only be taking part in the oval events on the Indycar calendar. As a result, he has an open seat for a diver to only take part on the street and road course events.
Daly, through training in Europe, is far more comfortable on road courses and street courses (with the exception of Gateway earlier this year, Daly has never finished in the top ten on an oval). The move would make sense and allow for Daly to continue to race Indycar, and more than likely enter the 500, while keeping an eye open for a full time ride.
The other option would be a return to Dale Coyne Racing, the seat he vacated in 2016 to join Foyt. Daly excelled at Coyne, punching well above his weight, scoring a podium at Detroit and a fourth place at Watkins Glen.
Daly, driving for Dale Coyne, takes on the 2016 Indy GP. Photo Credit: Motorsport.com
Daly and the team clearly worked well together, with Daly referring multiple times to Dale Coyne as "a wizard." A return to Coyne could spell more success for Daly and, combined with the ability to study under one of the grid's best in Sebastian Bourdais seems like a win-win.
While the choice is, more than like, going to come down to the team owners rather than Daly himself, if he has his choice, I have to think he would want to go back to Coyne. Even if it means moving up the proverbial pecking order by taking the Carpenter ride, Daly will not want to abandon a full time ride.
That desire coupled with being able to partner a living legend like Bourdais can only send his career to greater heights.