Dreyer & Reinbold Racing says it is ready to run Mike Conway in the final IndyCar road course event of the season at Sonoma's Infineon Raceway if he is recovered in time, even though it has brought in J.R. Hildebrand for the event.
Hildebrand was announced for a two-race program with D&R yesterday, sitting in for Conway at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma. The team has previously used Tomas Scheckter, Graham Rahal and Paul Tracy as its substitutes since Conway suffered leg and back injuries in a horrific crash at the end of the Indianapolis 500. However, team co-owner Robbie Buhl said the plan was to run a third car for Conway at Sears if his recovery had progressed well enough.
"If Mike Conway is far enough along in his rehab, which he is aggressively taking with his leg, he's shooting to be back in a racecar for Infineon," Buhl said. "If that is the case, we will have a car available for him, as well.
"I just wanted people to know that we're not looking past that with regards to Mike. We're hopeful that he can be back for that event. I think it's still an uphill battle for him, but just wanted to make that clear."
Fellow team owner Dennis Reinbold added that Conway's back injuries had progressed well and that the challenge was "definitely the leg" between now and the Sonoma event on Aug. 22.
"He's been out of the back brace for some time," said Reinbold. "Right now he gets his cast off next week, so that's the next big step. But, in the meantime, he's done some swimming. He's been careful to try to keep the cast dry. He's putting some weight on his foot.
"He seemed very upbeat when I spoke to him. He spoke about how it's coming along and there's not much pain in the foot anymore. So he sounds pretty optimistic."
Buhl acknowledged that racing at a track like Sonoma's would be a tough way for Conway to make his comeback, although the Briton took a superb podium finish there last year.
"When we had talked to Dr. [Terry] Trammell, he definitely felt the biggest challenge was going to be that leg," Buhl said. "But it's also the amount of pounds and pressure that need to be applied to the brake pedal. When we go to a place like Infineon, with the elevation, the big brake zones, he said that's going to be the big challenge, not just for Mike to be walking on that leg but the amount much pressure he needs to put on. He's a left-foot braker. The amount of load that needs to go through the brake pedal to stop these cars is huge."