Simon Pagenaud missed Sunday's IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio after flipping seven times during a harrowing wreck in practice a day earlier, leaving veteran driver Conor Daly to step into his Meyer Shank Racing ride on short notice.
Pagenaud was going nearly full speed entering Turn 4 of the road course on Saturday when the team said a manufacturer brake failure occurred. Pagenaud was able to induce a spin, scrubbing some of the speed, but catapulted off the racing surface and into a wild roll through a gravel trap that finally ended with the No. 60 car on its side.
Pagenaud was released from the track care center but, according to IndyCar protocols, could not return in time for qualifying. He was evaluated again early Sunday, but the 2019 Indy 500 winner did not receive clearance to race.
"To walk away from an accident like that is incredible," team owner Mike Shank said. "This is obviously not a scenario we had planned for, but everyone at MSR has pitched in to get our backup car ready."
The car that Daly will drive is the same car Pagenaud's teammate, Helio Castroneves, drove to victory in the 2021 Indy 500.
"We have to thank Conor for stepping into this," said Shank, adding that Pagenaud would be at the track and was in great spirits following his wreck. "He's been super great through all the chaos."
Daly began the season with a full-time ride with Ed Carpenter Racing, but he parted ways after the street race at Detroit and was replaced by Ryan Hunter-Reay. Daly has plenty of experience at Mid-Ohio, making eight IndyCar starts over the years, and he finished as high as sixth during his rookie season with Dale Coyne Racing in 2016.
"Obviously I have to think about Simon. You hate to see someone wreck like that," said Daly, who will have to start from the back of the 27-car grid. "The most important thing is to get him as healthy as possible, as soon as possible. This is his car and his group of folks, and I am here to do the best job that I can for this team.
"I've known Mike for a long time, and I've tested for his sports car team many years ago. I've always had a lot of respect for this organization. It's an honor to be a part of this group and fill in. We will just do the best job that we can."