Conor Daly will make his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing race debut in the No.30 MiJack Honda this weekend at the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway, the final oval race of the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
Speaking ahead of the race this weekend, Daly said:
“The team has really helped me try to prepare as much as possible and I’m thankful that Honda let me jump on the simulator for a little bit as well to get used to some things. Everyone has tried to prepare as much as possible and that’s all we can do. I won’t have a feel for this group and how this car drives until we get out there. And obviously in INDYCAR these days, there is not a ton of practice time so we will get out there and try to do our best, try to take advantage of every possible preparation source and execute once when we get on track.
“The team has been super welcoming. I’ve worked with several folks here before. Christian’s race engineer Ben (Siegel) was on my car at the 2021 Indy 500 when we led the most laps, so I’ve worked with him before. And I’ve known my chief mechanic Thomas (Semik Jr.) since 2017. There are folks all around that are familiar faces but there are also some friendly new faces as well, it’s a great group. I’m pretty proud to get to drive for this organization and even if it’s just for this weekend, it’s a great opportunity.
“There is just something that has always been special about Gateway for me. The very first test we all did there in 2017, I was quickest by quite a bit of time, and everyone thought we were cheating (said with a laugh). I was with Foyt (Racing) at the time and have always just enjoyed driving there since then. With the way the tires work there, the strategy and all of it has made it a track that suits my driving style and I love the event. I still wish it was a night race but Bommarito Auto Group, and the whole group that promote the event, do a great job.”
Christian Lundgaard in the No.45 Hy-Vee Honda ended the race here last year in 19th place and has a best oval finish of tenth place in race 1 at Iowa Speedway in 2022 speaking ahead of the race this weekend, he said:
“Going into the last stretch of the season, it definitely feels like the season has flown by. I know that we will be strong (on the road courses) in Portland and Laguna Seca but coming to Gateway (short oval), it will be more challenging. I believe that as a team we have improved on this type of track though. I don’t think we’ve gone from our previous form to being a guaranteed contender for the win, but I do believe we have made progress. It is a challenging track; it’s one of those short ovals where the racing is fun. Last year was an extremely long race with the rain delay in the middle of it but I’m excited to see what we are capable of this year there and on top of that, I’m very excited to see what we can do at the end of the season.”
Graham Rahal heads to World Wide Technology Raceway off the back of a second-place finish last time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
“I’m excited to have Hogan Transportation as the primary sponsor for my race car. It’s a great thing to have the two companies continue to work together over all these years. It’s been a long-term relationship going back to Carl Sr. so that makes it pretty cool to be flying these colors and I really hope we can have a great weekend. Brian (Hogan) is such an amazing man as are his brothers. Last year, I felt we were extremely good in the race until the red flag took place and then after that, once the race restarted, we were very loose, so we struggled after the restart. This year, I think we should be a little stronger. I feel like we’ve made some improvements. I thought we qualified well in Iowa, and I certainly hope that we can qualify well at World Wide Technology Raceway and can go to battle in a big way.”
This weekend will see Firestone will use the Alternate tire on an oval for the first time, and speaking about this, Graham Rahal commented saying:
“I think it will be really interesting to see how running the alternate tire at St. Louis works out and what it does to the strategy. “It’s going to be a very important and interesting new development in our sport, and I think everyone is thinking the same way.” “I think it will be really interesting to see how running the alternate tire at St. Louis works out and what it does to the strategy,” said Rahal. “It’s going to be a very important and interesting new development in our sport, and I think everyone is thinking the same way.”
Conor Daly commented saying:
“The alternate tire will be a huge question mark. “I don’t know what it’s going to be like, and I don’t think anyone does, but we trust Firestone and what they bring to the track. It will create a strategic chance and that’s all you can ask for. It can either go really well, or it could be a tough one, so we want to take advantage of that and see if it works in our favor. There will obviously be some practice (on it) that will be very, very important to maximize the information on that tire just to figure out how it changes the balance of the car, what it does to the race strategy and etc. It’s exciting to think about.”