Race Report Baltimore Grand Prix

Mike Conway’s Great Run Cut Short

BALTIMORE Sept. 2, 2010—Mike Conway and his ABC Supply team fought valiantly in the Grand Prix of Baltimore, coming back from several setbacks over the weekend and in the race but the results will simply show 16th, two laps down.

That stat doesn’t begin to tell the story of their dogfight in the streets of Baltimore.

Qualifying 2nd quickest in the Firestone Fast Six for a season best effort, Conway had to start 12th due to a grid penalty because of an unscheduled engine change earlier in the week. During that qualifying run, a miscue in the Pratt Street chicane as he was pressing for the pole, resulted in hard contact with the concrete barrier at the chicane exit. The ABC Supply crew worked until 9 p.m. Saturday repairing the entire left side of the car.

In the Sunday morning warm-up, Conway reported that the car felt as good as it had before the crash. Conway’s troubles appeared to be over as he made a good start in the 75-lap race; he was 10th after the first lap. Eventual winner Ryan Hunter-Reay slipped past him the next lap. Conway ran 11th until Helio Castroneves punted him on a lap 13 restart following the first of nine full course yellows.

Conway recovered from that spin and was in 22nd. After three pit stops within 10 laps, Conway went from red-rimmed, softer compound tires, to rain tires to the black, harder compound tires. On the black tires, he began his charge through the field, more remarkable since most of the field was on the red-rimmed, softer compound tires.

By lap 32, he was 11th and Larry Foyt radioed to him, “Good job, your lap times are as quick as anybody on the reds.”

By lap 45 the young Brit was running eighth. Partly due to different fuel strategies, Conway was running fourth when he pitted on lap 52 for fuel and the quicker ‘red’ tires. He dropped to 14th as the pit stops cycled out, but three laps later he set his quickest lap of the race. By lap 58 he was back in the top 10.

With 15 laps to go and four cars ahead of him needing to pit for fuel (or hoping for a long yellow), Conway was looking at a seventh or sixth place finish if the race had stayed green. However, a full course yellow for a stalled Charlie Kimball brought out another full course yellow on lap 66.

After the lap 70 restart, several cars bottled up in the Light Street hairpin.  Conway sliced through on the inside, and picked off two cars to move into seventh. Challenging Rubens Barrichello for sixth, Conway didn’t make it through the next left-hand corner-- onto Conway Street!

He slid into the tire barrier, effectively ending his chances for what would have been a top-five finish -- and possibly a podium finish as three of the top five drivers needed the three laps of yellow caused by his accident  to stretch their fuel to the end.

Conway was lucky to escape injury because moments after his initial contact with the tire barrier, Justin Wilson slid into and underneath Conway’s parked car. Safety crews finally untangled Conway and Wilson who, along with the other three cars caught in the traffic jam, rejoined the race for the final two laps under green.

“I thought we were going to come away with some good points,” Conway said afterwards. “On that last restart, I got a couple cars when they bottled up in the hairpin but then I tried to go in too quick on the next corner and I was into the tires. It's a shame because my ABC crew did a great job putting the car back together after yesterday. Tough way to end.”

With his victory, Hunter-Reay cut Will Power’s lead in the championship from 29 points to just 17. Following Hunter-Reay across the line were Ryan Briscoe, Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon and Barrichello. Power finished sixth.

The team will head to Los Angeles for a Sept. 12 IndyCar test at California Speedway in Fontana. The IZOD IndyCar Series is scheduled to return to the track that weekend for the season finale Saturday evening to determine the IndyCar Series champion and the winner of the A.J. Foyt Trophy which goes to the Oval Track Series Champion.

The MAVTV 500 will be broadcast live by the NBC Sports Channel on Saturday, Sept. 15th starting at 8:30 p.m.  ET.

Mike Conway Qualifies Second but Will Start 12th in the Grand Prix of Baltimore

BALTIMORE Sept. 1, 2012—Mike Conway qualified second today for the Grand Prix of Baltimore which is his best qualifying run of the 2012 season in the ABC Supply Honda. It is the second time this season that he qualified in the Firestone Fast Six, having qualified fourth for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

Conway posted a lap time of 1 minute 18.5 seconds for a speed of 93.49 mph on the 2.04 mile, 13-turn street circuit.

Unfortunately the hard-pressed effort to snatch the pole from Will Power on the final lap of the session, resulted in Conway having a big moment negotiating the chicane on Pratt Street.  Conway’s car launched off the curbing of the makeshift chicane (installed last evening to counter another problem officials faced with the long bumpy straightaway) and flew into the concrete barrier at the exit of the chicane.

“I pretty much hit the first curb wrong and it positioned me wrong for the second curb and I tried to take more of it knowing I was going to be in the wrong spot on the exit and it just flicked me off, put the rear end down and just tagged the wall,” Conway explained. “I kind of knew it was coming as soon as I turned in for the first part. It’s one of those corners where you need to get the car right every time. You try to save a little bit each time you go in but I was just looking for too much obviously. It’s a shame because it gives the guys a lot more work to do tonight but obviously happy to be up there.”

NOTES & QUOTES:  Grand Prix of Baltimore Presented by SRT

Mike Conway on the Baltimore street course: “Baltimore is a good track but it’s probably the most physically demanding one on the circuit because it’s really bumpy and there are so many corners, plus it’s fairly long for a street circuit. [At 2.04 miles, Baltimore is the third longest of the seven temporary circuits -- only Sao Paulo (2.5 mi) and Detroit (2.07 mi) are longer.] Last year there were exposed railroad ties and makeshift curbs that were put in on the race weekend but I expect it will be better this year because they’ve made a few changes to the circuit. I enjoy the challenge of a new circuit, getting to learn it as quick as possible and finding out the tricks of the place -- like where you can make up time. Street courses in general are always fun because the cities are pretty cool. The Baltimore circuit has a stretch where you can actually smell the food from the food stores and restaurants just before the right hander that leads onto that long main straightaway. Makes me hungry when I go through there—not really. It’s funny that you notice those things while driving a race car at speed.”

Conway on coming back from a frustrating weekend: “Sonoma was definitely frustrating because we really wanted to do well there and going into the weekend, we thought we had a good shot at it but it just wasn’t to be. We just have to work harder, iron out all the little issues we had and come back quicker. Mentally, you put it behind you and get on with the next one.”

Grid Penalty: AJ Foyt Racing had to change their Honda engine after the Sonoma race because the engine was well over the 1850-mile mark (the minimum for an allowed engine change). However, because it will be the sixth engine installed which exceeds the five engine limit allowed for the season, the car will incur a 10-spot grid penalty at Baltimore this weekend. It will be the second grid penalty of the year for the team with the first one occurring at Texas Motor Speedway (Conway qualified eighth, started 18th and finished 16th due to aero issues on the car).

Ryan Homes will be an associate sponsor on the No. 14 for this race. Ryan Homes is one of the nation’s top five home builders, building new homes in 27 markets in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Established in 1948, the company has built well over 300,000 homes in the past 64 years. Ryan Homes is a member of the NVR family, a distinguished group that also includes NVHomes, Fox Ridge Homes, and NVR Mortgage.