Race Report: Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
Mike Conway drove the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda to its first top-10 finish in two months and four races when he placed ninth in the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Sunday evening.
Pole winner Scott Dixon won the race and was followed by teammate Dario Franchitti and Simon Pagenaud, giving Honda all three podium finishes in the Chevrolet-sponsored event. Chevy powered the fourth through seventh place finishers: Will Power, Oriol Servia, Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay. They were followed by the Hondas of Charlie Kimball, Conway and Alex Tagliani.
Starting 14th, Conway was able to avoid mistakes, soldier on with a car that didn’t have the speed that it’s had in previous races, and score some valuable points.
“The first part of the race was pretty tough and we were just seeing what we could do with tire wear and fuel strategies,” Conway said. “The circuit breaking up made things a little more interesting for the last 15 laps. We weren’t sure we were going to make it on fuel but the extra yellows helped us out and we could race for it at the end. I’m happy we got a p-9 out of this. It was a tough day but we got some points so we can hold our heads up high and go on to the next one.”
The race was red-flagged after 45 laps to repair the track surface which had begun breaking up several laps earlier and caused James Hinchcliffe and Takuma Sato to wreck in separate, single car incidents.
The track evaluation and subsequent repairs took nearly two hours and the race was restarted just before 7 p.m. Because of the late hour, the race was shortened from 90 to 60 laps, giving the drivers a 15-lap dash to the finish.
Conway restarted in the 14th position but when Graham Rahal failed to restart with the field, Conway gained a position. He passed rookie Josef Newgarden on track for 12th. Helio Castroneves’ spin created a chain reaction accident which saw his teammate Ryan Briscoe also spin, giving Conway two more spots. By the time the race restarted, he was in 10th.
On the restart, Marco Andretti stole past Conway who was hung on the outside. Andretti then tagged ninth place E.J. Viso and spun Viso out and continued on with a damaged nose assembly. Conway was able to pass Andretti for ninth when the race was restarted for a final time with seven laps to go. Setting sight on Kimball, Conway could catch him in the corners but on the circuit’s two long straights, Kimball opened the gap on Conway.
“It was a bit of a crazy day,” Team Director Larry Foyt opined. “I’m glad we could bring the ABC Supply Honda home with a top-10 finish. We just really didn’t have the car we needed to be racing with the guys up front all day and we missed a little bit in qualifying. We know we have to work on it for this place but it’s good to get a finish under our belt and get some decent points.”
The IZOD IndyCar Series heads to Texas this week for Saturday night’s Firestone 550 race at Texas Motor Speedway. It will be televised on NBC Sports Network starting at 8 p.m. ET.