Everyone is talking about Rinus VeeKay being the guy who holds the keys to the free agency market right now and rightfully so too. The 21 year old Dutch driver is young and as talented as they come at this age. However, his Ed Carpenter Racing teammate of Conor Daly is just quietly putting together solid race after solid race.
Daly brought his No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet home 14th in Sunday’s Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America. While it wasn’t a great result, it was still solid. VeeKay would finish 3 spots behind in 17th. Unfortunately for VeeKay, ever since we got to Indianapolis he started sliding backwards.
In the first 4 races run in 2022, VeeKay had 3 top 10 finishes including 2 of which in the top 6 with a pole and podium at Barber. He sat 7th in points. Over the last 4 races, his finishes have been 23rd, 33rd, 16th and now 17th. That’s dropped him to 14th in the standings as we near the midway mark.
That’s also the same time of Daly’s emergence.
The first of two races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the GMR Grand Prix. Daly advanced through all rounds of qualifying on the road course and started 4th. Battling tricky wet and dry conditions, Daly earned his first Top 5 of the season with a 5th place. Just last weekend, he paced the Indianapolis 500 field for several laps before finishing 6th. Last Sunday in the streets of Detroit, he earned a solid 12th-place finish in the caution-free race.
Just a few corners into today’s Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America, Daly found himself back in 21st after being pushed off-track by another competitor at the start. Despite the early setback, Daly stuck to his three-stop strategy.
He made his first pit stop on Lap 16, switching from the primary black Firestone Firehawks to alternate reds. His set of reds carried him until Lap 29, when he made his second stop.
Daly had cycled to 7th before his third of three stops on Lap 42. The final restart on Lap 51 saw Daly be pushed off the track once again, causing him to lose two positions. He finished the race in 14th.
“We had great pace today, especially on the reds,” said Daly. “Both Meyer Shank Racing cars drove us off the road today at two different times, it’s a real shame to see experienced veterans drive like that. Simon (Pagenaud) knocking us off blatantly on the last restart was really tough because we were in 12th and that was my goal. We had a good day, great pace, but sometimes these things happen in racing.”
That’s 4 of the last 5 races Daly has finished ahead of VeeKay including outqualifying him twice in that span. The two have shared a Row in each of the last 2 races at that.
This isn’t a hit piece of VeeKay. He’s still very raw and has a lot of promise and potential. I think he’s got the prowess to do what Josef Newgarden is doing. This is more about how Daly is performing just as good as VeeKay if not better and not getting the attention for it.
“P17 was everything we had, really. It was very tough,” VeeKay said. “I struggled with the balance of the car all day. For me, it was a race to keep the car on track and that’s not a great race! It was a great call all the end to go to red tires, I passed many guys. I am looking forward to a few weeks off and coming back with great car for Mid-Ohio.”