CHEVROLET INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS: Media Day Press Conference Transcript – Conor Daly

CONOR DALY, driver of the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing with Cusick Motorsports Chevrolet, met with the media on Indianapolis 500 Media Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Press Conference Transcript:

THE MODERATOR: Starting 29th, makes his 11th Indianapolis 500 start, driver of the No. 24 Polka Dot Chevrolet with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

What has your race week been like so far?

CONOR DALY: Great question. It’s been wonderful. Nice and warm, the weather’s beautiful, as I’m sure it will be continuing this weekend.

It’s been fun, a lot going on. Very busy. That must mean something great. A lot of good vibes. Vibes are good.

THE MODERATOR: You feel good going into tomorrow?

CONOR DALY: I do. I asked my engineer. He said we will get in Carb Day. I just want one or two more things to evaluate that we didn’t get to do on Monday because we couldn’t run the second half of the session just out of kind of a precautionary measure.

Yeah, just want a couple more things, couple more things out the car. Honestly, I think we’ve kind of been low-key pretty good and kind of sneaking under the radar, I hope. It feels good. Car’s fast. I mean, certainly one way to go, can’t go much further back, so we’re going to go forward.

Q. Conor, you seem to be just really friendly with everybody here. You have the podcast. You have a relationship with a lot of the drivers. You have experience at the 500. Have you talked to a lot of the first-time drivers this year telling them what to expect?

CONOR DALY: I mean, I don’t think as much this year only because I haven’t been around the paddock at all until this month. That’s obviously a little bit different.

I’m going to be honest with anybody, you know what I mean?

I’ve talked to Kyle a little bit, but not really only about racing. He asked me if I stole his scooter. I don’t know if anyone else is looking at me for advice or anything.

I had a great interview with Nolan Siegel yesterday. It was a tough weekend for him. I’ll talk to anyone. Obviously, I don’t mind. I just like talking about this event. This is the coolest thing in the world we get to do.

Not sharing too much with people is probably the goal. Like, Marcus Armstrong is a guy I’ve talked to a lot. Seeing his face, it’s kind of like, this is crazy what we’re doing. Yeah, man, welcome to the show. This is it, what we’re doing every year. It’s kind of wild. To see their reaction is actually kind of cool.

I remember having the same reaction many years ago now when I was a rookie. I remember having the same — I was like, Marco Andretti, when I was a rookie, I was like, dude, this is kind of nuts. And he was like, yeah, welcome to the game, this what is we do here. Kind of cool.

Q. You have a unique perspective with this being your only INDYCAR race of the year. How do you go about preparing for it from a mental and physical standpoint?

CONOR DALY: I mean, they say go big or go home. I’m literally going big and still going home afterwards. I have no other choice other than to leave it all on the table.

I love this event. It doesn’t really feel as much as if — when I showed up at St. Louis with the Rahal team, it was one practice session, then we’re racing. We’ve had a bit of time to get used to this team. We’ve had some practice sessions, couple days of qualifying, a lot of time to bond and get used to what I want. It’s definitely unique in that sense.

Monday practice, I’m just trying to run race stints because I haven’t done a race length yet this year. Physically you have to get yourself ready and more in tune with that. I wish we had more practice last week ’cause that would have been nice. Still, this event gives you more time than any other event to kind of get in the system again, get your body and mind kind of in tune with what you’re going to need for Sunday.

Q. Everybody talks about how much they love this event. Seems like you might have a greater appreciation for it because you’re from here. How do you go about not taking it for granted?

CONOR DALY: I mean, it never gets old. The butterflies every morning, wanting to stay here, the bus lot. Still that feeling is incredible.

I’ve seen this event, it’s always been the same car for me technically, just different shapes of the car, but I feel like I’ve seen many different eras of this event. I’ve been part of the hundredth running of the Indy 500, coolest thing ever to say. I’ve been here when Alex Rossi won the hundredth, all this cool stuff. It’s been amazing and it never gets old. Something exciting and cool every year.

I want to make history here, too. That would be really awesome. I love it. Never gets old. I just hope I can keep doing this for a long time, maybe as long as my teammate, Ryan. He’s in his 40s, right? Hopefully I got that many years in me, too. That would be pretty cool.

Q.  Compared to previous years, what is your level of confidence going into Carb Day and the race this year? How different is it compared to the past seasons?

CONOR DALY: Yeah, honestly, when we did Fast Friday, that was the first time in a week where I was like, Oh, we might have — something’s going on here. The car was definitely difficult to drive.

Usually there is a reason for that happening. What I felt turns out was accurate after we looked at the data that night. Saturday morning we go out, we’re right back in the window. When you’re in Fast Friday and the car is loose, physically sideways in the corner, you’re like, this is probably not great. The next morning when you go out and you can do four laps, cool, we’re back. It was the same all during qualifying day on Saturday.

We actually were behind because of how difficult Fast Friday was. You maybe don’t run it as trim. We hope we fixed the problem, but if we didn’t, we don’t want to make an irresponsible decision.

Thankfully we probably could have run a little bit more trim, more aggressive qualifying day. We obviously know what happened on qualifying day anyway, which prevented us from being a little bit further up.

Other than Fast Friday, we’ve been really confident every day. I’ve honestly been impressed with this Dreyer Reinbold Cusick team. Everyone from Chevrolet has been super helpful for us, as well. As a one-time entrant, it’s tough to show up to the big game here and be right in the gate. We have cars in the Fast 12, two cars that are really fast. That’s really impressive yet again from Dennis and everyone at the team.

I feel great. I feel very confident. I wouldn’t lie to everyone clearly. I’ve been very honest, probably too honest, in my life. We’re pretty stoked about this weekend.

Q. Larson’s scooter, has there not been any driver bus lot pranks at all this month?

CONOR DALY: It’s been quiet in there. I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe we’re all just focused. It’s kind of sad. I sleep better at night, though (smiling).