Each time Conor Daly has competed at the World Wide Technology Raceway, he has recorded a strong finish. In five races at the 1.25-mile oval, he has four Top 10s and has not finished lower than 11th. This weekend will be his first at WWT Raceway with ECR; for the past two seasons, Daly drove at the road and street courses and the Indianapolis 500 for ECR and Carlin for the remaining oval events.
Following strong qualifying pace at Iowa to where he started in Row 2 for each race, Daly is hoping that carries over to this weekend for Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 (6 p.m. ET, USA, INDYCAR Radio Network).
“WWT Raceway is one of my favorite tracks on our schedule,” Daly said. “This will be the first time I’ve raced with Ed Carpenter Racing there so I am excited to see what we can do together as a team. I definitely love everything about the event, the Bommarito Automotive Group does a great job putting it all together. We’re hoping to have the same speed we had in qualifying at Iowa a few weeks ago and we’ve worked to improve our race pace as well. I am very, very excited for this race, I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. Can’t wait to get it going!”
Daly’s first season as full-time driver of ECR’s No. 20 BitNile Chevrolet featured a stretch of solid results. Earlier this season, he advanced through all rounds of qualifying and started 4th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Battling both wet and dry conditions during the race, he earned his first Top 5 finish of the year. Two weeks later, he paced the Indianapolis 500 field for several laps before finishing 6th. Additional strong results followed the next three rounds at Detroit, Road America and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Rinus VeeKay is also equally as excited to come to a track that he scored a pair of top 6 finishes at in 2020. VeeKay has filled his third season with many accomplishments, including finishing 4th in Race 1 at Iowa Speedway, the most recent oval event. In early May, he won his second career pole position and earned his first podium of 2022 with a third place at Barber Motorsports Park. A few weeks later, he qualified on the front row of the Indianapolis 500 for the second year in a row and started third. With his qualifying performance, he was the fastest Chevrolet-powered driver in the 33-car field for the third consecutive year. Additional strong finishes last month include a 4th place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and 6th at the IMS Road Course.
Just two weeks ago, it was announced that VeeKay will continue with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2023 as part of a multi-year agreement. He has spent his entire NTT INDYCAR SERIES career behind the wheel of the No. 21 Chevrolet, including his rookie year of 2020 where the WWT Raceway weekend was his best to that point. VeeKay drove up to 6th in Race 1, which was his highest finish on an oval until the next day. At the start of Race 2, VeeKay went four-wide down the backstretch and gained seven positions in the first lap. He continued a spirited charge through the field for the duration of the event, eventually climbing to 4th place.
“I am so excited to go back to WWT Raceway,” he says. “One of my best-ever results on an oval came there in 2020 and we had a pretty good race going last year as well. I am looking forward to it a lot! Having Iowa Speedway on the schedule this year will also help us be more prepared for this weekend. I think we can make it a very good race and it’s going to be very exciting. It’s nice to be going back to three cars and having the data from both Ed (Carpenter) and Conor (Daly), Conor is a very good driver on the short ovals and this is the first race at Gateway where he’ll be my teammate. We want to race up front all of Saturday and get into the Top 10 in the championship!”
Speaking of Carpenter, he’s back for his final start of the season too and hoping his experience pays off for a solid run on Saturday evening. Since it’s return to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar in 2017, WWT Raceway has been the final oval race of the season. As Carpenter competes exclusively in the oval events, the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will mark the conclusion of his 20th season of Indy car competition. In his 2019 season finale at WWT Raceway, Carpenter worked his way through the entire field to earn a runner-up finish, missing the top step of the podium by a mere .0399 of a second.
Carpenter’s 2022 campaign has included Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a doubleheader at Iowa Speedway. By pacing the field at Texas, he has led at least one race in 14 of the past 15 NTT INDYCAR SERIES seasons. At his hometown race, the Indianapolis 500, he qualified amongst the Top 4 for the 7th time in the past 10 years.
Though Carpenter’s car is an expansion to ECR’s usual two-car program, the No. 33 pit consists of many familiar faces. Most crew members are an annual part of ECR’s Indy 500 program, some having been with the team since its first time with three cars in 2015. Many of the No. 33 crew also assist on the No. 16 as part of ECR’s technical partnership with Paretta Autosport.
“I am excited to get back to World Wide Technology Raceway,” he notes. “It was a tough race for me there last year, but it is a track I have always enjoyed competing at. I am ready to make up for last year and end my driving season on a high note! Having a break after Nashville was great for the team, so we are all very energized and ready to use this event as a springboard for a strong run to the end of the season.”