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.”
The resulting impact damaged the entire left side of the car but the ABC Supply crew will be able to fix the Dallara this evening, replacing the undertray, uprights, suspension, radiator and rear wing beam. They will be able to repair (instead of replace) the sidepod and rear wing.
Despite the front row qualifying effort, Conway will start 12th because the crew changed the engine for this weekend which they knew would result in a 10-spot grid penalty. The engine was scheduled to be changed based on its mileage (over 1850 miles) but since it was the sixth engine of the season, it exceeded the five-engine maximum for the season, thus incurring the grid penalty.
"I’m happy to get second but with the engine change we will be 12th,” Conway said. “That's a bit annoying, it could have been a front row start. But it is what it is, the same for everyone. It is just going to make our day tomorrow a bit more challenging so we will see where we stack up during the first few laps on what we are going to do strategy."
Will Power won the pole with a speed of 94.18 mph with a lap time of 1 minute, 17.97 seconds. Third through sixth were Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, Dario Franchitti and James Hinchcliffe.
The teams will have a 30-minute warmup session on race morning. The race will be televised on NBC Sports Network starting at 2 p.m. with the green flag set to wave at 2:47 p.m.