IndyCar: Conway wins Toronto lottery in Race 2
It hadn’t been a particularly good weekend for street master Mike Conway. The winner at Long Beach earlier this season started 13th and finished 20th in Sunday’s opening race of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader and lined up 11th for the second 65-lap sprint.
But when it began raining on lap 12 everything changed – pit strategy, tire selection and traction. And it was Conway’s call to go from rain tires to slicks that propelled him into victory lane for Ed Carpenter Racing.
“It was drying and I thought we needed to take a shot and go for it,” said the soft-spoken Englishman who stopped on lap 43 for dry-weather rubber even though the 1.7-mile circuit was still wet around the edges. “The grip was better than I thought and I knew the two guys ahead of me were on rain tires so it made things kinda easy.”
In a wild afternoon that followed a pretty docile opener (won by Sebastien Bourdais), it became a timed race instead of 65 laps because of all the caution flags and that made Justin Wilson and Josef Newgarden gamble and stay out on wets.
Following one of the six caution flags on the day, Wilson led Newgarden to the green flag on lap 49 with Conway sitting third. But he smoked past both of them and into the lead on lap 50 just as another full-course yellow flag waved. With a little under 5:00 remaining, IndyCar Race Control decided to throw the red flag so the patient Canadian fans could get a green-flag finish.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” said owner/driver Carpenter afterward, “but I just wish I knew if we were going to do it all the time or sometimes or what the protocol is.”
It turned out to be a two-lap shootout but it was anti-climactic, at least at the front, as Conway pulled away from runner-up Tony Kanaan.
“All credit to Mike,” said Carpenter, who decided last winter to split the driving duties with the young man who quit his full-time ride with A.J. Foyt two years ago because he no longer wanted to race on ovals. “He made the call to go to slicks and he did a helluva job.”
It was the third victory of 2014 for ECR as Conway kept Chip Ganassi out of the winner’s circle for the 14th straight race. But Kanaan made a splendid recovery to snag his third straight podium. After plugging into the tires on the opening lap and dropping back to last, T.K. charged back to put the Target Dallara-Chevrolet in second place – just ahead of Will Power.
Power had one of the luckiest and best weekends of his rollercoaster season. He got a reprieve from a crash on Saturday when the race never started and was eventually called because of rain. He started 23rd in the first race and soldiered home in ninth place in the Verizon Team Penske Dallara-Chevrolet.
The starting lineup for Race #2 was based on entrant points so he took the green flag on the outside of the front row next to his teammate and point leader Helio Castroneves. They had a great duel in the rain before Power finally got past to take the lead on lap 42 and start pulling away. The Aussie was just about to pit for slicks on lap 44 when the yellow flag waved, the pits closed and that cost him any chance of winning since Conway was already on slicks and wouldn’t need to stop again.
“A good points day and four races to go,” said Power, who trails Castroneves by 13 points with four races to go in the Verizon IndyCar series.
Castroneves, who finished second in the opener, faded to 12th in the nightcap with a broken front wing.
Results - 56 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Engine Time/Gap 1. Mike Conway Carpenter/Chevy 1h20m35.5420s 2. Tony Kanaan Ganassi/Chevy +3.5418s 3. Will Power Penske/Chevy +5.1545s 4. Charlie Kimball Ganassi/Chevy +5.4857s 5. Takuma Sato Foyt/Honda +6.6210s 6. Jack Hawksworth Herta/Honda +7.8701s 7. Scott Dixon Ganassi/Chevy +7.9350s 8. Marco Andretti Andretti/Honda +10.1765s 9. Sebastien Bourdais KV/Chevy +12.0212s 10. Justin Wilson Coyne/Honda +15.7853s 11. Ryan Briscoe Ganassi/Chevy +15.8671s 12. Helio Castroneves Penske/Chevy +16.2205s 13. Josef Newgarden Fisher/Honda +20.9127s 14. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti/Honda +22.6140s 15. Carlos Huertas Coyne/Honda +29.2715s 16. Luca Filippi Rahal/Honda +46.4382s 17. Carlos Munoz Andretti/Honda -4 laps* 18. James Hinchcliffe Andretti/Honda -4 laps 19. Juan Pablo Montoya Penske/Chevy -4 laps * Not running at finish Retirements: Graham Rahal Rahal/Honda 50 laps Sebastian Saavedra KV/Chevy 49 laps Simon Pagenaud Schmidt/Honda 47 laps** Mikhail Aleshin Schmidt/Honda 11 laps ** Running again at finish
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