Race Report Indy Grand Prix Sonoma

Race Report: Go-Pro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

SONOMA, CA  Aug. 26, 2012—The movie Groundhog Day where the protagonist relives the same day over and over would be a good analogy for Mike Conway’s race Sunday afternoon at Sonoma Raceway. He passed a lot of cars over and over but the record will show he started 14th and finished 14th.

The start of the 85-lap race around the 2.38-mile road course saw Conway scrambling to avoid a skirmish involving Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves which resulted in Conway dropping three spots before the first lap was completed.

He worked his way back to 14th by the time of his first pit stop at lap 16 but then dropped to 22nd as different fuel strategies began to evolve.  Now on the quicker red alternate tires, he moved up to 13th by the time he stopped again on lap 39. The ABC Supply crew slapped on a set of used reds as they wanted to save the remaining set of new red tires for the final fuel stint.

Unfortunately, Conway became stuck behind a lapped car about the time the used tires were showing their wear. Conway radioed in “The tires are gone.”  Team Director Larry Foyt told him to try to hang on as he’d pit in about five laps.  Conway slipped from 12th to 15th and went a lap down before he could pit on lap 61 for new tires.

Mike Conway Qualifies 16th at Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif. August 25, 2012—Mike Conway qualified 16th out of 27 cars for the Go-Pro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma today. However, he will line up 14th in the ABC Supply Honda Sunday afternoon due to 10th place Justin Wilson and 13th place Sebastian Saavedra incurring 10-spot grid penalties for unapproved engine changes.

After struggling in practice on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, Conway posted his fastest speed of the weekend in qualifying with a lap time of 1 minute, 18.9 seconds (108.815 mph).

"We improved the car for qualifying but it was frustrating not getting the ultimate lap put together,” Conway said. “We still have the final warmup to work on it and get it better."

Will Power won his third straight pole at Sonoma Raceway with a speed of 111.11 mph; his Penske teammates Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves were second and fourth.  Sebastian Bourdais, driving for Jay Penske, posted his best qualifying effort of the season for third, while Honda-powered Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti rounded out the Firestone Fast Six.

The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network starting at 4 p.m. ET.

Notes & Quotes: Go-Pro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

Mike Conway on Sonoma: “It’s a fast flowing track so there’s only three hard braking areas, and in the rest of them you carry the speed through the corner to the exit. The first part of the track is comprised of more high speed sections and the rest of it is a bit slower with the hairpin and the chicane so it’s two different disciplines with the car. You might get the car really good for the first section but it might not be that good for the second half of the track, so it’s always a bit of a compromise at Sonoma to get the car right. That’s why it’s so tricky to be quick.”

Conway on the track changes: “The new track wasn’t loads different; they extended the last corner and changed turn 7 which should create a little bit more passing in the race. It will depend on how the tires wear because, at the moment, the tires seem to be running out really quickly. I think it will depend on getting a setup on the car which will make the tires last longer. However when you have that kind of situation where the cars are obviously struggling with grip, you’ll have lots of passing opportunities. I think it’ll be a good race.”

Conway on recent test at Sonoma: “We had a test plan and we wanted to get through a lot of stuff. It started off ok and then we put on the tires that we’re going to run this weekend, and the car wasn’t as good. We did find a good direction toward the end of the test so we got some good stuff done, but we need to find a bit of pace when we get back there.”