NEWTON, Iowa — In his first start at Iowa Speedway since 2017, Noblesville native Conor Daly finished a respectable 13th for Carlin Racing in the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet at Sunday Morning’s Iowa 300.

His two appearances at the .875 mile oval in NTT IndyCar Series competition ended prematurely for Daly who was upbeat after finishing just one lap down.

“I’ve never even really made it to halfway in this race before so I’ve always struggled here,” said Daly. “I think we probably should’ve finished 12th or 11th, I think we were running around there most of the day which is a huge accomplishment. I mean, this track is so hard, this track is so dependent on mechanical grip and usually the big teams succeed here. As we saw, Penske dominates. For us as a very young team to come here and do that, I think we can be really proud of it. It was really hard but I’m glad we made it through and had a good day.”

The race had a scheduled start time of around 6:30 p.m. ET but was delayed over four hours because of rain. The race started just after 10:45 p.m. ET and Daly started 16th out of 22 cars. Running in the middle of the pack for most of the race was about as well as the whole team could do since Daly didn’t know he’d be driving until the week of the race. Preparation time hasn’t been as long as it would be if he were racing full time. Still, progress has been made.

“I’ve done three races this year and we’ve never finished lower than 13th so it’s not bad,” said Daly. “I’ve got to be proud of it, I think we’re making progress with this team and we certainly have been in the fight every time. We’re making moves on bigger teams, we’re doing what we have to do so I think we can be really proud, just thankful for the chance to drive obviously and just want to keep obviously building up my stock for next year.”

Daly ran at the Indianapolis 500 this year with Andretti Autosport and finished 10th before racing with Carlin at Texas Motor Speedway in June, finishing 11th there. Competing on a part time basis is extremely difficult in America’s top-tier open wheel racing series, especially when you’re on a race-by-race basis.

“I want to be here full time and I want to compete against these guys for championships and it makes things difficult,” said Daly. “Hopefully someone at some point will finally get on the train and fully lock in to giving me the right chance. That time will come hopefully, but if not I’m still just going to keep busting my butt to get there.”

Daly will be at the rest of the NTT IndyCar Series races but is unsure of his role in the remaining five races of the 2019 season.

“Driving-wise, I don’t know. I’m day by day so we’ll see.”