INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — IndyCar driver Conor Daly will have a new lead engineer for next month's rescheduled Indianapolis 500: NASCAR Cup-winning crew chief Cole Pearn.
Ed Carpenter's team made the announcement Wednesday.
Pearn was considered one of the top crew chiefs in NASCAR before announcing a surprise resignation in December so he could spend more time with his family in Canada. He teamed up with Martin Truex Jr. to win the 2017 Cup Series crown, which was followed by runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2019.
Now Pearn will be getting a crash course in Indy cars with help from Pete Craik, Carpenter's lead engineer. The two worked together previously at Furniture Row Racing.
“I wasn’t sure when I would want to get back to racing, but this is a great opportunity to do so," Pearn said in a statement from the team. “To be able to do it at a high level was too hard to pass up. Obviously, it will be a steep learning curve but getting to work with Pete again and the rest of the team is about the best situation I could hope for.”
Daly and rookie Rinus VeeKay are full-time drivers for Ed Carpenter Racing. The team owner runs only on ovals and all three will attempt to make Indy's traditional 33-car starting grid. The race, which was postponed from May 24 because of the pandemic, is scheduled to be run Aug. 23.
Last year, Daly produced his best results at the 2.5-mile track. He posted the fastest lap of the month in practice, barely missed qualifying for the nine-car pole shootout and finished a career-best 10th. With Pearn on board, the driver of the No. 47 Chevrolet believes he could be stronger this year.
“I am really excited to get to work with Cole for the first time at the Indy 500," Daly said. “We’re both going to have to get up to speed with this ECR operation, but I can’t wait.”
Pearn broke into the racing business as an engineer for Richard Childress Racing. He was promoted to crew chief in 2015 and helped Truex reach the championship race four times.