Race Report Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

Race Report: Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

Mike Conway drove the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda to its first top-10 finish in two months and four races when he placed ninth in the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Sunday evening.

Pole winner Scott Dixon won the race and was followed by teammate Dario Franchitti and Simon Pagenaud, giving Honda all three podium finishes in the Chevrolet-sponsored event. Chevy powered the fourth through seventh place finishers:  Will Power, Oriol Servia, Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay. They were followed by the Hondas of Charlie Kimball, Conway and Alex Tagliani.

Starting 14th, Conway was able to avoid mistakes, soldier on with a car that didn’t have the speed that it’s had in previous races, and score some valuable points.

“The first part of the race was pretty tough and we were just seeing what we could do with tire wear and fuel strategies,” Conway said.  “The circuit breaking up made things a little more interesting for the last 15 laps. We weren’t sure we were going to make it on fuel but the extra yellows helped us out and we could race for it at the end. I’m happy we got a p-9 out of this. It was a tough day but we got some points so we can hold our heads up high and go on to the next one.”

Qualifying Report: Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

DETROIT June 2, 2012—Mike Conway will start outside of Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti as the pair will start in the eighth row for Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, marking the return of the IZOD IndyCar Series to Belle Isle for the first time since 2008. It is the first time this year that Conway has started lower than 11th on a street/road circuit.

“We struggled since this morning and we didn’t really get the ABC Supply car much better,” Conway said after clocking a speed of 104.003 mph in his ABC Supply Honda.  “The car’s a real handful so we have a lot of work to do tonight to figure it out. I think it’s going to be a race of attrition tomorrow so we have to get it the best we can.”

The engineers poured through the data and believe that the track gripped up more than it has historically in the past. In their estimation, they didn’t compensate enough for the changing track conditions today but are confident that the changes they make for tomorrow will allow Conway to be competitive in the race.

Franchitti’s teammate Scott Dixon edged out Will Power for the pole and became the first driver other than Power to win a pole this season on either a road or street course. Dixon, in a Honda, posted a speed of 105.978mph to Power’s 105.972mph run in a Chevrolet. Rounding out the Firestone Fast Six were Alex Tagliani, Simon Pagenaud,  E.J. Viso and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Yesterday, Conway ended the session as 11th quickest after spending much of the practice session in the top 5.

“It was good to get on track,” Conway said Friday afternoon. “I was quite excited to get on it because I’d never been here before. The first impression is good. It’s as bumpy as it looked out there Thursday just walking around.  I thought the car was handling pretty good at the beginning. We made a few changes trying to improve it and maybe went back a little bit on one change and didn’t go any quicker but then we went back out and found a bit more pace again. Just would have liked to get in more running but it’s the same for everybody.”

The team will have a final 30 minute practice to test out their changes tomorrow morning. The race will be televised live by ABC-TV starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Notes: Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

Mike Conway: No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda

•New to Detroit:  Mike Conway will be seeing the 2.07-mile temporary street circuit on Detroit’s Belle Isle for the first time on Thursday. Conway didn’t join the IZOD IndyCar Series until 2009, the year the race was cancelled due to the economic downturn.

•Conway’s return to the streets: Conway is looking forward to returning to a street course this weekend. His worst start on the road and street courses this year was 11th in the season opener at St. Petersburg with his best of fourth coming at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. That is also where he scored his best finish to date in the No. 14 -- seventh. Mechanical problems in two events ended in DNFs and a strong finish in Sao Paulo came to naught when he was squeezed into the concrete barrier on a restart.

•Past performance at Detroit: In the first IndyCar Series race at Belle Isle in 2007, Darren Manning started eighth and finished fourth, tying his best finish of his career to that point. In the following year, Manning started 15th and finished 12th.

•ABC Supply roofing customer, Tittle Brothers Construction, located in Lincoln Park, MI, won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. The company name will be atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda.  Greg and Kevin Tittle will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with A.J. Foyt and Mike Conway.

•Brad Songer will be the ABC Supply Honorary Crew Member of the race this weekend. Songer, of Dearborn, MI, works as a delivery driver for ABC Supply in the Detroit area; he began working for the company in 2011. Songer, 38, attended the final Formula One race in downtown Detroit in the mid-1980s and most of the Indy car races on Belle Isle. His favorite racing memory was meeting Emerson Fittipaldi.

•ABC Supply will entertain over 400 guests at Sunday’s race. Prior to 2012, the company had entertained over 35,000 guests at IndyCar races since it began sponsoring A.J. Foyt’s team in 2005.