Race Report San Paulo

Race Report: Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300

SAO PAULO, April 29, 2012—Driving a very competitive ABC Supply Dallara/Honda, Mike Conway battled back from two accidents in the early stages of the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 only to be taken out with eight laps to go while vying for sixth place!

Conway started seventh and fought his way into fifth before the teams started making their first pit stops. Ryan Briscoe brought out the first caution for a single car accident in Turn 10 on lap 23. On the restart, as cars dove into Turn 1, Conway hit third place Dario Franchitti hard enough to spin him around and take himself out in the process. The incident was reviewed by Race Control and Conway was not penalized.

Both drivers were able to continue after pitting -- Conway’s crew had to replace the front wing nose assembly on the ABC Supply car. On the next restart, an accident in the back of the pack but in front of Conway forced him to slow and stop to avoid hitting anyone as the track was blocked. He then pitted for tires and fuel. Franchitti, however, was far enough behind the accident to miss it entirely; he gained seven positions when the cars ahead of him pitted for tires and fuel.

Despite the early setbacks, Conway continued to fight and by lap 58, he was back in the top 10! The race’s fourth full course caution came out on lap 63 for Josef Newgarden’s single car accident in Turn 6.

Mike Conway Qualified 8th in Sao Paulo Indy 300 but Starts 7th

SAO PAULO April 28, 2012—Mike Conway qualified the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda at a speed of 111.592mph for the eighth spot in the Sao Paulo Indy 300 grid. However, Conway will start seventh due to sixth place qualifier Justin Wilson’s car failing inspection after qualifying. Wilson was moved to the back of the grid because Wilson’s crew did not add the weight ballast (or dummy equipment) for a TV in-car camera during qualifying.

Even so, the eighth-spot qualifying run was the best start for both Conway and the ABC Supply team in Brazil and it’s the first time the driver and team posted career bests at the same track.

Following the first practice session in which Conway was 17th, changes were made to the car which improved the handling so that Conway was seventh at the end of the second practice. In qualifying, he appeared to be headed into the “Firestone Fast Six” round but got stuck behind a car for the final two laps of the session.

“It would have been close,” Team Director Larry Foyt said.

“A Top Six would have been nice but P-8’s not too bad--it’s a good position to start,” Conway said. “We’ve made some strides between Long Beach and now which is good. We’ve definitely caught up to the field quite a bit which was our main goal coming into this weekend. We’ll find more speed as time goes on. I think P-8 is okay—we can definitely do some damage from there. I don’t mean damage to the car but to the rest of the field!”

Conway will start alongside of Graham Rahal (who is on probation for the next six races  for an incident at Long Beach) and directly behind Justin Wilson.

Defending race winner Will Power won his second straight pole at this event with a speed of 112.151mph. Second through sixth were: Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Wilson.

The race will be televised live Sunday morning at 11 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network channel.

 

Notes & Quotes: Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle

Mike Conway on the Sao Paulo street circuit: “Brazil is very bumpy and in that way it’s similar to St Pete and Long Beach. There are two really long straights; the longest one starts coming out of turn 10-- I think it’s a mile long-- so that’s a really good place to overtake people. You can get a really good run with big tows. I think we’ll get to see how well these cars tow up—they tow up pretty well at the Speedway so we’ll see what it’s like with the bigger wings. From that corner there (Turn 11) all the way down to the next one there’s a pretty long straight  which takes you into a tight chicane so there’s definitely another passing opportunity there as well. So you’ve got two back-to-back passing zones, which makes it quite interesting because if you don’t pull the pass off in one straight, you might pull it off the corner after. You’ve got to have a quick car in a straight line to overtake and avoid being overtaken. In the first two practice sessions we’ve definitely got to be looking at where we are in the speed traps  compared to everyone else because that is going to be very important.”

On the team’s focus in Brazil: Mike Conway: “The big focus is going to be trying to get more speed out of the car; we still need to find more time in qualifying. We’re starting to get knocked out in the first round so we’ve really got to unlock some of the speed that’s in the car which we haven’t found yet. Hopefully we can do that.”

Team Director Larry Foyt: “Even though we’ve seen more passing in every race this year compared to last year, the field is so tight that qualifying remains very important. For some reason, we’re still lacking speed with the alternative (red-rimmed) tires. We haven’t found what Mike wants to feel out of this car yet and that’s what we’re still searching for. We’ll be trying some stuff in Brazil. We’re learning every race but with a one-car team, there are only so many things we can try on a race weekend because we’re so limited on practice time.”

Conway on last year’s Sao Paulo Indy 300: “We had some bad luck last year. We were running third and we had an electrical problem which caused the car to keep cutting out. When the race got red-flagged, I was actually back in 20th. The race was postponed to the next day [because it was raining so hard]. We fixed the car overnight and we managed to come through the field to finish sixth. It was a wet race so it was kind of tricky but I enjoyed it.”

A.J. Foyt will miss the Sao Paulo event: “I’m still not 100% and I felt with Indy coming up, I didn’t want to put myself through that long trip to Brazil,” Foyt said. “I know that my team will do just fine without me there. Larry’s been running the team day-to-day, and he’s doing a great job. I’ll be watching them on TV.”