|Indianapolis, IN (May 27, 2018) – Dale Coyne Racing’s Zachary Claman De Melo led his first Verizon IndyCar Series laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday during the Indy 500, but despite the impressive overall performance, a late race fuel gamble cost the rookie a possible top 10 finish aboard his #19 Paysafe car. In the teams #17 U.S. Air Force entry with Thom Burns Racing, Conor Daly finished his first Indy 500 since 2013 by placing 21st. Below are the Race Reports for both drivers.
Zachary Claman De Melo - #19 Paysafe
Dale Coyne Racing
Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo put in a strong performance in his Indianapolis 500 debut on Sunday, but a late race fuel gamble cost the driver of the #19 Paysafe car a possible spot in the Top 10. The rookie, who was starting 13th, maintained his position in the middle of the pack for most of the race, climbing his way up when cars ahead of him pitted, which allowed him to lead seven laps throughout the event. With a lack of passing happening on track amongst all the cars, the Paysafe crew used pit stop strategy and fuel saving to get their driver to the front of the field. However, a much needed caution period never came and Claman De Melo was forced to head to pit lane from 10th place for fuel with only three laps to go. The trip down pit lane meant he would end up near the back of the field and take the checkered flag in 19th.
In his own words:
“It was a cool experience getting to race the #19 Paysafe car at the Indy 500. I really enjoyed my time. As much as I wanted to do better results wise, we went for it, we gambled, and it didn’t work but I’m happy we went for it. That’s what the sport is about, and we took a risk. I finished the race, I got a lot of experience under my belt and it will benefit me a lot when I come back next year. I think one more yellow and we would have had a better result. From the crowd, to everything, it’s been super surreal. I loved it, I enjoyed the whole month and I can’t wait to hopefully be back next year.”
Conor Daly - #17 U.S. Air Force
Dale Coyne Racing dba Thom Burns Racing
Conor Daly finished his first Indianapolis 500 since 2013, registering his best finish at the iconic 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The U.S. Air Force driver made his way up to take the checkered flag in 21st place from his 33rd spot on the starting grid. Daly had potential to finish higher on the final results sheets but his chances of gaining on others through pit strategy was hindered by untimely cautions.
In his own words:
“I think we have to be pretty happy from where we started. We thought it was going to be a much more difficult day. We ended up being pretty competitive and passing some cars. On track we were running with Wickens and Wilson, behind guys that finished in the Top 15, but every time we pitted it went yellow. Again, I can’t seem to find any luck here. I would have been super happy finishing in the top 15 because I knew I was faster than those guys all day. That’s just the frustrating part. I want to thank everyone that helped put this program together from the U.S. Air Force, Thom Burns, Dale Coyne, everyone on the team. I’m super grateful for the opportunity to race at Indy once again.”