INDIANAPOLIS — Conor Daly had better luck on Bump Day than he did most of this week.
When he arrived at the track last Monday, the 21-year-old rookie was missing his HANS which was lost on his flight back from two races in Spain. On Thursday, he became the first -- and only driver -- to crash this month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. On Saturday, he made one qualifying attempt, completed two laps, and then waved off before finishing the four-lap run with puffs of light smoke coming out the rear of his car. A.J. Foyt's team couldn't get the car fixed in time to make another attempt so Daly had to wait until Sunday to get another shot.
And this time, something finally went right for the kid who grew up in Noblesville, a northern suburb of Indianapolis. His four-lap average of 223.582 mph was good enough to earn a spot on the inside of Row 11, No. 31, for next week's race.
It sure hasn't been easy.
"We got the engine last night at around 8:30 p.m. and those guys worked late again last night," Daly said. "Today, thankfully, it was running all on the right notes and everything was looking good. But this morning was our first time to actually run in full qualifying trim, so I guess it all happened quite fast. Obviously we're not fully, fully trimmed yet. I'd like to go back out if it was a perfect world."
As Daly knows all too well, it's not.
His team has been late nights trying to fix and fine-tune the No. 41 car.
Daly said his biggest problems have come in the second turn, which is why he was surprised to wind up in the wall of the first turn.
"It just kind of completely threw a curveball at me. Just all of a sudden, the right rear kicked, and as soon as you lose it, you can't get it back," he said. "I mean, I caught it, but there's no runoff area here, so I wasn't able to save it."
He's just hoping things finally start to improve over the next week.
"I'm still learning -- learning the track, still learning everything," he said. "It's all about getting that information and processing it and then using it in an effective manner."