Dreyer & Reinbold Racing had expected to raise its profile this year after adding race winner Justin Wilson to its IZOD IndyCar Series squad, and the team looks to be ahead of schedule after a strong turn of speed by both Wilson and teammate Mike Conway on the streets of St. Petersburg Monday, with Wilson claiming a close second at the end.
While fourth-starting Wilson lost a few spots while working to keep his nose clean on the opening lap, Conway (10th on the grid) spun in Turn 2, and filtered to the back of the pack. Fortunately, he didn't do any damage, but he did pit on lap two and topped off on fuel. The duo were running in sixth (Wilson) and seventh position when the caution came out on lap 46. Conway came in for fuel and tires while Wilson stayed out in the hope of completing the race on only two stops.
Unfortunately for D&R, the caution that was needed for Wilson was provided by Conway, whose Dad's Root Beer Dallara collided with Rafael Matos' Luczo Dragon/de Ferran entry, ending Conway's day against the wall. Yet the resulting yellow flag allowed Wilson to save the fuel he needed and confirmed that he would be able to finish the race on just two stops.
When the green flag dropped for the final time on lap 78, Wilson was in second position and battling Team Penske's Will Power for the lead. His heavy pressure failed to rattle the Australian, though, and Wilson was obliged to bring the Z-Line Designs car home in second.
"I think that we had a good race. We just decided to copy Will," Wilson related. "Whatever he does seems to be working these days, so we just followed him every step of the way and finished right behind him. The Z-Line Designs crew did a fantastic last pit stop and that's really what decided the finishing order. That led us into the position behind Will and we just hung on."
While obviously delighted with that result, team co-owner Dennis Reinbold rued Conway's early exit.
"Mike was one of the fastest cars on the track all day", he noted. "I'm really happy with what he did and how he ran his way all the way back up to the front. Because of our strategy, he had to cycle back through and make up spots on his own, which he did. I'm really proud of the way he drove today. It's unfortunate he had an accident trying to get around another car.
"All in all, it was a very good day. Obviously, I'm really happy with Justin's result today. We wanted to get a win, but we are knocking on the door of that and we will get one pretty soon."