Conway choice pays dividends early for Carpenter team

The cross-continent, multi-series schedule was Mike Conway's choice because he enjoys nothing more than the pursuit of victory no matter the series or racetrack.

Conway choice pays dividends early for Carpenter team

Mike Conway is a part-time Verizon IndyCar Series driver with a full-time schedule of racing and though he'd like nothing more than to bask in glow of a victory in the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach with Ed Carpenter Racing this week, he's off for more racing.

The 30-year-old Brit will head to Silverstone in England to compete in one of his other part-time gigs -- A six-hour sports car race for Millennium Racing this weekend -- before jetting back to the States for the April 25-27 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

The cross-continent, multi-series schedule was Conway's choice because he enjoys nothing more than the pursuit of victory no matter the series or racetrack. After leaving A.J. Foyt Racing with one race remaining in the 2012 season - by his choice - Conway coaxed five top-10 finishes, including a victory and third place at Detroit, out of seven starts in 2013 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Dale Coyne Racing.

Mike Conway, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Mike Conway, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: David Yowe

Carpenter, the sole Verizon IndyCar Series team owner/driver, stepped up to hire Conway for this season as he stepped out of the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car for his own part-time schedule of ovals and to concentrate on solidifying the business side of the 3-year-old team.

Conway placed 16th in the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and starting 17th for the 80-lap race on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach street course didn't do much to raise his confidence. But as he's experienced through his career that began in British Formula Ford, if you're not challenging you're not really driving.

Conway inherited the lead when reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon had to pit for a splash of fuel on Lap 78, and he held off Will Power and rookie Carlos Munoz to win by less than a second.

"It says a lot for the ECR crew that I was able to win in my second race with them," Conway said. "Of course, I just love this circuit as well as the overall event. It's a classic and I just can't believe I have now won it twice in the last four years. We did get some breaks in the race as a driver usually does when he wins."

Conway's charge to the front late in the race was similar to his 2011 Long Beach performance as he took advantage of others' mistakes and misfortune along with displaying solid race craft.

"When I won in 2011, I had to come back from 20th in the middle of the race to get up to the leaders," he said. "So I knew that starting 17th it was possible to challenge to get up front. But we had a game plan with our Firestone tires to use the black tires (primary and hard) first and then follow up with two sets of red (softer) sticker tires during our pit stops. The car felt good with the red tires for our final two stints."

Carpenter, who will test in the No. 20 Chevrolet-powered car this week at Texas Motor Speedway before beginning practice May 11 for the Indianapolis 500, sees the race as a statement for the remainder of the 18-race season. Also, the victory came 35 years to the weekend that Fuzzy Zoeller (founder of primary sponsor Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka) won the Masters.

"I have never won a race this early in the season," said Carpenter, who gave the team its first victory in the 2012 season finale at Auto Club Speedway about 50 miles northeast of Long Beach. "So this is very exciting to show that our decision paid off pretty quickly.

"We have made some solid gains with Mike already and this victory will give the team more confidence to cement our beliefs that we can we can win additional races."

Conway will do his part to help claim the entrant championship.

"I've got to say a big thanks to Ed for making it happen, and all the guys at Fuzzy's Racing to put me in this position," he said. "I think it's a great combination. It's great to repay them this soon with a win. I think Ed's going to be awesome on the ovals, so it's great to be part of it."

INDYCAR

shares
comments
INDYCAR modifies Indianapolis 500 schedule and qualifying format

Previous article

INDYCAR modifies Indianapolis 500 schedule and qualifying format

Next article

IndyCar edgy at Long Beach

IndyCar edgy at Long Beach
Load comments
The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review Prime

The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review

At the halfway point in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Prime

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all for us. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, Helio explained his tactics to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Jun 2, 2021
How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status Prime

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status

Helio Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears with the most Indianapolis 500 wins after sweeping around the outside of Alex Palou on the penultimate lap in a thrilling climax. In one race, he validated Michael Shank's and Jim Meyer's faith in him, and Helio himself discovered there's life after Penske after all.

IndyCar
Jun 1, 2021
Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious? Prime

Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious?

A quarter of the drivers racing in the 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500 are former winners - but are they the favourites? The veteran drivers largely impressed in qualifying - but there's also a plethora of young guns looking to secure victory at IndyCar's flagship race...

IndyCar
May 25, 2021
What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1? Prime

What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1?

The FIA says it wants American drivers in Formula 1, but would it take an IndyCar driver to transfer or does an American need to join the European junior ladder system to get there? By David Malsher-Lopez.

Formula 1
May 19, 2021
Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life Prime

Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life

After spending the majority of his 179-race Formula 1 career in middling to tail-end machinery, Romain Grosjean finds himself once again with an underdog team in IndyCar. While not without its challenges, he's relishing the more level playing field that means his Dale Coyne Racing crew can expect to claim a few scalps...

IndyCar
May 14, 2021
Why IndyCar's new aero parts should improve racing at Indy Prime

Why IndyCar's new aero parts should improve racing at Indy

Tino Belli, IndyCar’s director of aerodynamic development, believes the changes to the underside of the cars will allow them to run closer at Indy and make passes. The moment of truth comes on its biggest stage, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
May 10, 2021