Surprise winner of the Toyota GP of Long Beach Mike Conway and team owner Michael Andretti, Ryan Briscoe and Dario Franchitti meet the media.
Q: Mike, congratulations. It's got to feel good to get that first win. Could you talk about that last restart and then that pass on Ryan Hunter-Reay for the lead?
MIKE CONWAY: "Yeah, I mean, initially I was just kind of following Will [Power] and Ryan. The car was good, kind of just saving fuel, just keeping the gap the same and not pushing too hard, trying to save a little bit of the tires just in case. If they pitted early I still had some tires left to push.
"And we came in for that pit stop, and things kind of went a little bit wrong from there. A little bit my fault, I think, just coming in just locked the tire in. There was a problem with the left front. From there it was kind of a case of trying to pass as many cars as I could. But, at the same time, it wasn't easy; it was tough.
"But as soon as we came out on the reds and kind of jumped a few people in the pits, the car kind of came to life again, and yeah, on the restarts the car was awesome. Everyone else was kind of struggling for grip and we were just kind of charging through.
"Yeah, great we won, and Dario and Ryan I passed later, so it was nice to really fight for the lead there and a nice clean pass, and from there it was kind of just head down and try and pull away."
Q. Were you surprised at how big a gap you were able to open up once you were in the lead? You just drove away from them...
MIKE CONWAY: "Yeah, I mean, as I said, the car was good on the restarts and I was kind of just pushing the car to its limits, as always, and yeah, they just kind of dropped away from my mirrors, so it sort of made my day a little bit easier not having to fight with Ryan all the way through to the end there. The car just was good, and we were just able to pull away.
"I think the gap that we pulled so quickly was great, and I would just keep it from there. So yeah. I don't know – a little bit surprised maybe, but the car felt hooked up, so I thought I could do it."
Q: Michael, What made you take a chance on Mike and his comeback this year?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: "First of all, I don't think it was a chance. I think Mike showed a lot of signs of brilliance last year at the beginning of the season and then, unfortunately, had his accident. Coming back, I had no question in my mind. I personally felt like he was going to be hungrier than ever coming back, and that's exactly the way it came about. The first time he got in a racecar for us, he was literally up in speed in about four or five laps after being out of a car that long.
"I never felt like it was taking a chance. I was so happy that we were able to put a deal together with Mike because I was really wanting him all the way from the end of last year, and the deal came together really late and I was very happy because I felt like he was going to be a great addition to the team not only as a great talent, but he just fits in with the other three drivers, which is quite important to have that chemistry. And I think we have a great chemistry right now between the drivers, and because of that, I feel really good about the rest of this year. I think we're going to be strong."
Q. You won last year with Ryan Hunter‑Reay; your father Mario had a lot of success here; you had a lot of success here. Is this one of your favorite tracks?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: "It's a special place, for sure. For me personally, like you said, winning my first and my last race here, my career, and there's something about Long Beach. When you come here, you just feel the energy. It's different than anywhere we go. The fans are just so great, and the track is great, promoters are great. It's a fun part of the year.
"You know, it seems like when I go to places like that, you feel like you do better, and I think maybe that's one of the things that really has always affected me in that way and that's why I've had good luck here."
Q. Mike, considering what happened last year, how much does this victory mean to you, and did you at any point after last year's accident think that your career might be over?
MIKE CONWAY: "Well, yeah. I mean, initially I saw the injuries I had, and I just wasn't sure when I'd get back. Yeah, things like that can definitely stop your career. But I was just determined to not let it, determined to get back, back to fitness and back in a car. As soon as we were kind of talking to Michael, it was really exciting times knowing that we could possibly be with such a good team like Andretti Autosport. Yeah, for it to finally come together was awesome.
"This year just full of energy and just all ready for the fight ahead. A long season. To get a win in the third race in, third race back, is awesome, and I can't thank Michael enough for believing in me and the team for doing such a great job."