Race Report Long Beach

Race Report  - Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

LONG BEACH, CA April 15, 2012—Friday the 13th came two days later for Mike Conway and the ABC Supply team.

Despite starting a ‘lucky’ seventh in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Conway suffered one misfortune after another beginning with getting hit and shuffled back two positions on the start due in part to the scramble triggered by the front row starters’ altercation. The race was yellow-flagged after pole sitter Dario Franchitti and outside pole sitter Josef Newgarden made contact with Newgarden ending up against the wall.

The race restarted on lap 4, and Ryan Hunter-Reay found a way past Conway for eighth. Three laps later, Foyt radioed to Conway to save fuel since he couldn’t pass. Conway was running consistent laps between Hunter-Reay and Ryan Briscoe when a full course yellow came out for Sebastian Bourdais’s slide into a tire barrier on lap 20.

Conway pitted along with half of the field but the stop didn’t go as smoothly as it could have. By the time he circled around, he was in 16th position although seven cars didn’t pit.

The race barely got restarted when the caution flew again for the accident involving Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti (who nearly got upside down) in Turn 8. Then Conway radioed in he couldn’t go to sixth gear and the engineers told him a couple of fixes to try, none of which worked. His car stopped on the backstretch. The safety crew got him back to his pit box.

Mike Conway Will Start Seventh in Grand Prix of Long Beach

LONG BEACH, CA April 14, 2012—Mike Conway will start seventh in the ABC Supply Dallara in the Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday afternoon due to a strange combination of circumstances that saw all of the Chevrolet-powered teams incurring a 10-position grid penalty.

Conway qualified the Honda-powered No. 14 car in the 14th position with a qualifying speed of 101.375mph around the 1.96-mile street course.

“I'm pretty disappointed because I really wanted to have a strong run here,” said Conway, who is the defending champion of the Grand Prix of Long Beach. “The ABC car is not quite feeling the way I want yet.  We just have to keep working at it.”

Strong storms washed out most of practice on Friday. The team is making substantive changes to the car this evening which Conway will be able to test in the 30-minute morning warm-up.

“We are disappointed with our speed in qualifications but I’m going to say we got caught out by the weather,” said Team Director Larry Foyt. “We are still learning this new car, and our plan was to try some new ideas we thought would be better but it wasn’t the case. We are always learning and will go back to some things we are certain of for the race.”

The situation with the Chevy-powered teams arose out of a test session last week at Infineon Raceway. Following the test, the engine manufacturer instructed all of its teams to change their engines before the Long Beach event. Since the engine changes occurred before the 1850-mile scheduled rotation, the teams were assessed a 10-spot grid penalty per IndyCar rules.

Notes & Quotes: Long Beach Grand Prix

Mike Conway on being the defending race winner: “I’ll approach it like any other weekend but obviously you’ve got that extra little excitement knowing that you won there the year before. The hard bit is to try and do it again.”

Conway on what he was feeling after he won at Long Beach last year: “That one meant more to me than some other ones because I’d been laid off after May the year before [due to leg/back injuries from his accident in the 2010 Indy 500]. To get our first win--and how we did it--made it more special. With it being at Long Beach, well, I didn’t realize the amount of history that race had until I was up there on the podium and saw all the previous winners’ names etched onto bronze plaques in victory circle. It was pretty cool, and that’s when it sunk in what had just happened.”

Conway on the Long Beach street circuit: “It’s a cool track, I think all the drivers like it. It’s quite challenging. There are some really tight areas. With a green street circuit, it’s constantly getting faster and faster each time you go out, so you’re constantly learning. You have to know what the circuit’s going to do and how that affects your car’s setup. It’s pretty bumpy in areas but most street circuits are like that. There’s even less margin for error at Long Beach because of how tight it is in some sections of the course but that makes it more challenging.”

Conway on new rule about pits being open at outset of non-emergency full course cautions: “It’s going to throw a lot of things into the mix-if the first 4 or 5 cars go past the pit entrance and then it goes full yellow, and you dive in as soon as it has gone yellow, then you’re going to come out ahead of them eventually when they go in to change tires. I think it’s going to really mix things up in your favor or against depending where you are on the track. You’re going to need a bit of luck at the end of the day.”