An Indy Car, Formula Single Seater and Dirt Midget are all open wheel race cars, but the similarities end there.
Conor Daly has enjoyed a moderate amount of success in the first two over the past decade but is just starting to get the feel he needs to break through in the latter.
Of course, the second-generation racer has just eight starts in a Midget over the past five years and it has been nothing less than an education every time Daly has entered the Tulsa Expo Center for the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.
His last appearance, in 2020, began and ended with an elimination in his H Main but there was more to the story. Starting sixth and needing a top-six to transfer to a G, Daly drove as high as third and held a transfer spot on the final lap when he looped his car around and fell to ninth and out of the event.
In the heat of the moment, Daly lamented whether or not he wanted to come back for a while but says almost two years later that it was just the fierce competitor coming out of him.
"It's hard sometimes to check your ego at the door," Daly said of trying a new discipline after winning in GP3, Indy Lights and leading 112 laps across 80 starts in the IndyCar Series.
"When I’m in an Indy car, I know why a weekend did or didn’t go well," Daly said. "I know what I needed to feel in a car. When I’ve raced the Chili Bowl the past couple of years, I couldn’t tell you if the car was good or what I needed it to do."
He wasn’t sure what he needed to be doing more often than not.
"I needed to be easier on myself," Daly said. "That’s the competitor in me. We don’t want to show up somewhere and not belong. Chili Bowl is a lot of fun, but I take it very seriously."
Daly is still seeking a full-time IndyCar Series partner for the 2022 season and feels more confident than all winter that one is close to materializing. As a result, he hopes to make at least two Truck Series starts this coming season around his IndyCar duties and hopes to do it with DIAEDGE at Circuit of the Americas and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
"I’m not going to lie to you, we were in a tough spot in early December," Daly said. "We had a lot of our options fall through. Didn’t expect some of the challenges we’ve faced. But we’re working on one that we feel pretty good about.
"So then, if that comes together, those two Truck races fit on the schedule and I already know those tracks really well. We’re within a week or so hopefully, on getting all that put together and that would be a fun schedule."
It’s a schedule that begins next week in Tulsa with DIAEDGE.
"I first met those guys when I went to Charlotte for an IndyCar sim run," Daly said. "So, we started to talk about Chili Bowl and there was a lot of interest. I said, ‘you’re not going to partner with the race winning favorite, but we’re going to create a lot of content and have a lot of fun together."