Plainfield, IL (March 29, 2016) – Dale Coyne Racing makes a long-awaited racing return to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) this week for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix on Saturday, April 2, an event that presents a whole new challenge to rookie driver Conor Daly and Italian Luca Filippi.
This second round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season will mark the eighth race for the Illinois-based team at PIR, but the first for its drivers. The last time Dale Coyne Racing competed at the 1.022-mile oval was over 20 years ago, in 1995, when racing in CART with drivers Eric Bachelart and Alessandro Zampedri.
Daly, who pilots the #18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group car, will be making his first IndyCar Series start on a short-oval and only his second on any type of oval track.
As for his teammate Filippi in the #19 Boy Scouts of America Indy car, he is taking part in his first ever oval race, in what will be his 20th series start.
Nonetheless, the Dale Coyne Racing drivers are no strangers to PIR, having participated in what was a successful two-day test at the facility last month.
With their limited experience at this demanding track, Daly and Filippi agree that the 250-lap race will likely be one of their biggest challenges this season, but one they are ready and excited to take on.
The team will be on track Friday, April 1 for practice and qualifying, with the Phoenix Grand Prix going green on Saturday, April 2 at 9:15pm ET.
Both qualifying and the race will be broadcast live on NBCSN with qualifying airing at 2:00pm ET on Friday and the race airing from 8:30pm ET on Saturday. Live timing and scoring will be available at racecontrol.indycar.com
Dale Coyne Racing Driver Quotes
Conor Daly - #18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group
“I think it’s going to be quite a challenge in Phoenix. Probably the biggest challenge we’ve faced so far. Especially for me as a driver. There’s a lot to learn, a different style of racing to get used to. I’m excited for it. It was nice to be able to test there in the Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality car, so we have a little bit of experience going into it, but still, I definitely think of this track as probably one of the biggest challenges we’ll face all year.
“Racing on a road and street course, that’s sort of what I was bred doing. You know what happens on a road and street course, everything is obviously new every race but the style and goals are all the same and you can sort of anticipate, but racing at Phoenix and racing on a short oval is a different style, there’s a different kind of technique and there’s a different strategy. The cars are super on the limit in Phoenix and it’ll be tough for everyone. It’s a whole new physical set of challenges, obviously the track is very difficult physically and I think patience is quite important in Phoenix as well and just staying in the fight will be the major key for us.
“I don’t have much to compare the track to in Phoenix but it’s pretty cool driving on it. With Turns 1 & 2 being so different from Turns 3 & 4 and having the dogleg, that creates, again, another challenge for racing there. When all the corners are different that presents another one, where is the best place to overtake, one place is obviously going to be a lot harder than the other and no one is going to be giving an inch. It’s going to be new, it’s going to be different but I like the track and I think it’s going to be a cool place to have a race.”
Luca Filippi – #19 Boy Scouts of America
“I’m very, very excited going into my first oval race, especially since it’s my first oval race in an Indy car which is something very special to me. Not many drivers have the opportunity to race on ovals so I also feel lucky and honored to accomplish this. I know it’s going to be a real challenge. It’s going to be something very different from everything else that I’ve experienced in racing, so I expect an exciting weekend but at the same time a tough weekend. It’s hard for me to have specific expectations, but being in IndyCar is what I like the most and where I want to be and I have to go through this learning process and take it step by step.
“My preparation for this race is going to be mentally slightly different because there’s still a lot to learn and we don’t have a lot of time to practice and work with our engineers to make the right changes before the race to get the Boy Scouts of America car where we want it. I’ll have to remind myself not to overdrive the car, because on ovals you don’t have room for that. I think the key will be to be patient. I obviously want to take the best out of it and we have to take it one step at a time to get the job done properly.
“Phoenix International Raceway is an interesting place to race because it’s so different to any other track that we race at. It’s what makes IndyCar racing the most versatile series in the world, at least in open-wheel. You have three types of tracks between street and road courses and ovals, and then the ovals are so different from one another, and Phoenix is unique compared to the other places we go to. It’s very challenging, very demanding physically and mentally. One of the big challenges will be to get used to the train of cars and the traffic that we will have in the race, and at such high speeds. I think in terms of a short oval, it’s probably one of the toughest because going through the traffic and staying with the traffic is going to be, from my point of view, much more difficult than any other place we will go to this year. It’s a huge challenge and with little experience in this type of racing it’s probably an even bigger one! But it’s very exciting, it’s something very new to me and I can’t wait to be there.”