Mike Conway dominates first leg of Detroit GP
Mike Conway earned his second career victory today in the first leg of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans.
"The car has been great all weekend and as the track was rubbering in it was getting better and better," said Conway, whose other IZOD IndyCar Series victory came at Long Beach in 2011.
Conway took the lead from the second grid position on the opening lap, as he got the jump on first-place starter E.J. Viso. Hunter-Reay would overtake Viso soon thereafter, as he and Conway would soon separate themselves from the rest of the field. Conway would cede the lead to Hunter-Reay on the first round of pit stops. However, as the defending series champion's alternate Firestone tires began to degrade, Conway, who was on primary Firestones on the first two stints began to attack. The Brit would pass Hunter-Reay on lap 44, and quickly open a large gap as Hunter-Reay's red tires went off.
And although Conway had to run his final stint on the alternate red Firestones, he had built up nearly a twenty second led by his final pit stop on lap 53. Still, holding a double-digit second lead, Conway had the luxury of looking after the fast degrading alternates, and scored his second career IndyCar win unchallenged.
Rounding out the top-five would be Scott Dixon in fourth, and Helio Castroneves in fifth. With the top two in the series championship, Marco Andretti and Takuma Sato, experiencing difficulties, Castroneves took over the championship lead.
Dario Franchitti finished sixth after starting the race 11th. Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing scored an impressive seventh after starting twenty-fourth. Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, and Graham Rahal rounded out the top-10.
Overall, it was a strong day for Honda. One week after ceding the top four positions to rival Chevrolet at Indianapolis, Honda captured three of the top-5, and seven of the top-10 finishing positions.
By winning today’s race, Conway has now set himself up for a $50,000 bonus if he can also win the second of the inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series double header weekends tomorrow.
A half-hour IndyCar Series warm-up will begin at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, with race two of the doubleheader scheduled to begin around 3:50 p.m.
MIKE CONWAY (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "The car has been great all weekend and as the track was rubbering in it was getting better and better. It was keep pushing and get a gap, and the strategy worked out perfectly at the end. I wanted to stay out and do more laps. (About Race 2): "We're starting in the perfect position so we'll take it to them and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
DALE COYNE (Owner, Dale Coyne Racing): "We were impressed this morning. We've never had a driver qualify on the pole, let alone win, set the fastest lap, lead the most laps, everything he did. It's pretty amazing on his part and for the entire team to put both cars in the top-three. Our engineering side is working hard and we're pretty pleased. (On expectations heading into Belle Isle): Our goal was to score as many points as possible and think we could get in the top-five. This is even better.
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "It was tough. Scott (Dixon) was coming fast and I knew he was good. I just tried to had to hit my marks and make sure I didn't make a mistake. He had a couple of runs on me, and I just tried to position my car in the middle of the road so it made it harder for him to pass. I was just sliding around there at the end. It was good fun. I'm really pleased for Mike (Conway) to get the win. It's great to get Dale Coyne Racing 1-3 on the podium, both cars there. It's fantastic for Boy Scouts of American and Honda. All around a good day.
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "I got to the back of the field there twice and had to drive through it. I'm just so happy for Mike Conway. He's one of the nicest guys in the paddock and he is so deserving. He did a fantastic job. No, I'm stoked man. Tough day, tough weekend for qualifying. At least we start, I think 10 or 12 spots further up tomorrow so we should be looking good. (About preparing for Race 2): You know, I don't feel too bad. The pace of the race was very high. It felt like it was qualifying all over again almost every lap. Earlier on it was a bit funky in the middle there with people trying to set a pace, but the front runners were definitely going. Yea, I'll definitely be getting plenty of rest tonight.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "I just saw that I'm on top of the points, but I mean really Mike Conway - great job. Jumping straight from the couch to the driver's seat. It just proves that the series is very competitive with the teams. And now we've taken the points lead, which is very good. What we had was great; I wish it could've been a little bit more, but we'll take it. (About Race 2): Our strategy for tomorrow is just to keep it clean like we did today. It was a perfect call from everyone, from John Erickson. For now we just need to keep going. We have a good momentum and we want to get the podium, but in order to get on the podium we have to pass a lot of cars."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): "The DHL Chevy was great but on the middle stint on reds we just fell out of it. We completely had no grip. I'm not sure if we were just using up the tires too much. Mike (Conway) did a great job. He was flying. We were as quick as him on blacks, and on those laps few laps. I should say those last ten laps of the race we were reeling him in by about 2 seconds a lap it just wasn't enough. He has such a big lead from that middle stint. Great job to the Coyne guys, and heck a job to Mike coming right back in and winning a race. It's tough. We really wanted to win it for Chevy, but we have another shot at it tomorrow."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): ""It was a struggle again for the No. 83 car but a lot of credit to the guys in the pits. They did a green flag nose-change that was super quick. I think it was almost as fast as a regular stop. The Novo Nordisk boys have been working hard on that all year. The car was good. I think we can make some big improvements tomorrow as it looks like it's going to be dry all day. The car was really good at the end. We just have to figure out how to get there from the beginning, but overall I'm pretty happy."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): ""Not a bad day. We had a strong car. I think we need to probably tweak it a little bit before tomorrow. We did a great job from where we started and the team had great pit stops and a killer strategy, so well be trying to work really hard tomorrow to replicate that."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "We got a lot better over the course of the race. We are getting closer with car so I believe we'll be better for tomorrow's (Sunday) race. We were able to be more competitive as the race went on. We thought there might be rain later in the race so we went on a different strategy a bit. This is a tough track. It was a good job by Mike (Conway) but I'm bummed out a Chevrolet didn't win. Hopefully Chevy can come back and take Sunday's race. There were a lot of marbles and it made it tough if you got off the line. And you also picked up some stuff on the tires. Tag (Alex Tagliani) even lost it under yellow so you can see how tough it was off line. It made it tough to pass because you had to go off the groove and it was slick. Overall, we ran all day and we learned some stuff for the future."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet): ""I think it was a hard race; we fought hard, but we kind of got squeezed out on the wrong side on the one restart and lost five positions there. That was a bit frustrating, but I think we're kind of ok. We still need a little bit of work for tomorrow, so we're going to go back and open the books again and try to do it better. During the race we learned a lot and that should really help. Hopefully we can improve tomorrow and bring the Nuclear Clean Air Energy home to a better finish than today."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "It was a difficult day for us in Detroit for Dual 1. We managed to improve the car for qualifying but unfortunately it went the wrong way for the race. It was a pretty long day at the office but we managed to bring home some points finishing 12th. We're going to do some work to make the HP car better for tomorrow in Dual 2. Congratulations to Mike Conway and Honda for this win here in Chevrolet's camp. We've got some work to do, but I'm definitely not giving up hope. We'll study what happened during the race because we're obviously lacking a little bit of something. We'll come back stronger tomorrow because that's what we do."
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): " "It was a pretty epic race today. I flat spotted my right front tire early on. I had to come in early for a pit stop because there was really no point in staying out after that. So that was my mistake obviously. After that we had a pretty good race even though our pace wasn't quite there. The yellow flags definitely helped us catch up. I tried to fight for a top-10 and didn't quite make it. The guys did a great job in the pits today and now we just have to work on being faster for tomorrow."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "I had a decent start, but lost a few positions after getting caught behind the Allmendinger crash on the first lap. We made a lot of progress after that, passing a lot of cars and having good laps. I caught up to Sebastian (Saavedra) and my throttle got stuck. I am lucky I didn't take him out because it was very close and the stuck throttle ended our day early."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "It was good fun out there; I passed a lot of cars and the car was great. I was just setting up Graham (Rahal) for a pass there with a few laps to go and turned in too wide on the dust and the National Guard car came around on me. It's a real bummer that we didn't finish but all-in-all it was a super positive race, and we had really good speed. I was feeling really good in the car and the pit stops were great. We'll try to have the same kind of pace tomorrow."
E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA CITGO Chevrolet): "Definitely an extremely disappointing result. I feel terrible for everybody involved in my crew and my car. An error on the manufacturer's end diminished the best chance that I had til now of winning a race starting from first. It's extremely frustrating, but at the same time, things like this happen in racing. I have nothing else I can do at this point except to focus on tomorrow's race. Thanks to my crew and everyone at Andretti Autosport for giving me a car fast enough for pole position and getting my first "pole" in IndyCar."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Suave Honda): "We had a really good first stint with the Suave car. But then on either the second or third restart we got shuffled back. Helio [Castroneves] got down the inside of us and locked up his tires and I had to go wide to avoid him. I probably lost five places in three corners there during that exchange. From there it was just a case of coming back through the field. The team did a bit of strategy and I was trying to make some passes there. I have to say the Suave car was very fast. It was just a matter of getting some clear track to make things happen. It was a good team effort today. We need to make a few changes for tomorrow to see if we can improve things."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Hippino.com KV Racing Technology-SH Racing Chevrolet): "This was not the result that I was looking for the Hippino.com/Chevy/Firestone car, but I can say I gave my best today. I took the opportunity in every restart to gain positions, but the bottom line is that we did not have the speed to run upfront with those guys. The No. 11 crew will continue to work hard on getting the car where it should be for tomorrow's warm-up and I hope that we can get a better result in race two."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "Man, that was a hard race, I drove the Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet at 100% every single lap. That was the hardest I've ever worked and not won a race, it really shows the competition level right now. We had great restarts today which hopefully will carry over to tomorrow and starting closer to the front should help us be in it at the end."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Midas/Big O Tires Honda): "Obviously I'm happy with the finishing result. You always want to finish higher up but some days you've got to take what you can get. The Midas / Big O Tires guys worked awfully hard, we had good stops and ultimately we got ourselves a top-10. It was a good day for the team overall. Clearly we need to keep working but I'm pretty happy with where we finished relative to where we started. (About if there was something from today that can be applied to tomorrow's race:) "Without a doubt I think that set-up wise we are going to learn quite a lot overnight here. There are a lot of things that we can work on to make the car a little bit better but overall I am pretty pleased. (About physical demands of duel races:) "It's a tough race, there's no doubt about that. I feel all right but everybody is going to want their rest tonight."
JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): "The first stint was tough. The first few laps were OK, we lost a couple of positions but then got them back. And then just could not drive on the reds and I don't know why. The guys did a great job in the pits. Hopefully we can make a few changes tonight and get right up there tomorrow. (On trip through the runoff area on L31:) I was struggling with the tires and struggled to stop so I went straight in to the runoff, had to turn back around and get back on track." (About f there was something from today that can be applied to tomorrow's race:) "We can learn a lot from today for the race tomorrow. We will have a look at the data now. It will be a long night tonight. We have a session in the morning, make a few changes and then see where we end up. (On physical demands of duel races:) "It's going to be tough tomorrow. It's a tough race track. We'll just get on with it and do it."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet): "Up and down day for us, unfortunately. I think that we actually had a pretty decent car. In the first half of the race we were picking guys off and got up to, I think, just outside the top 10 from 20th. I was trying to get by Graham (Rahal) in Turn 3 and we went side-by-side there, and I had to use a lot of curb and ended up picking up a tire on the inside of the thing there. It caused us an early stop which meant we had to stop again for a splash at the end. It's too bad because the pace was there for a solid top 10 which, after where we started, I would have been happy with. The GoDaddy Chevy just got better and better as the race went on, and hopefully that is a good sign for tomorrow and we can start up in the top 10 now, and take the lessons learned today and just try to keep moving forward."
Winners average speed: 90.753
Time of Race: 01:48:45.4309
Margin of victory: 12.9707
Cautions: 3 for 14 laps
Lead changes: 4 among 3 drivers
Lap Leaders: Conway 1-23, Hunter-Reay 24-43, Conway 44-52, Wilson 53-55, Conway 56-70.
Point Standings: Castroneves 182, Hunter-Reay 179, Andretti 178, Sato 168, Wilson 161, Dixon 154, Hinchcliffe 143, Kanaan 141, Pagenaud 126, Kimball 122.
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