By Ian Shalapata
(DETROIT, MI) – That’s one down and one to go, and the story is Mike Conway, a replacement driver for Ana Beatriz at Dale Coyne Racing, taking the podium at the end of Dual1, as the first IndyCar race is being called.
Conway, from Bromley in England, has been in racing in IZOD since 2009 but yesterday’s Dual in Detroit was only his second start this year and his first win since 2011. In fact, to understand Conway’s unlikelihood of winning, you should be aware that he led more laps on Belle Isle yesterday (47) than he did in the previous four years (31).
“The car has been great all weekend and as the track was rubbering in it was getting better and better, Conway said. “It was keep pushing and get a gap, and the strategy worked out perfectly at the end.”
As the icing on the cake for Conway is the fact that he will start today’s race, Dual2, at the poll position. The question is, therefore, “Can Conway sweep in Detroit?” If he does, Conway would claim a $50,000 bonus. If not, the money will hold-over until Toronto, the next Dual, where the purse will increase to $100,000 for a sweep. And if the pot remains unclaimed then it increases to $150,000 for the Houston weekend.
The story doesn’t end there, though.
Finishing in third place was Justin Wilson, also of Dale Coyne Racing, crossed the line just 0.1 seconds ahead of last year’s Detroit winner, Scott Dixon. Wilson led three laps as he, Conway, and second place finisher Ryan Hunter-Reay traded the lead four times during the 70 lap race.
The team owner, Dale Coyne, had nothing but praise for his drivers.
“We were impressed this morning,” he said. “We’ve never had a driver qualify on the pole, let alone win, set the fastest lap, lead the most laps, everything he did. It’s pretty amazing on his part and for the entire team to put both cars in the top-three.”
The race also had its controversies, however.
The Number 6 car driven, by Sebastian Saavedra, wrecked on lap 47 and didn’t hold back on who was to blame.
“It’s just frustrating to see that Marco (Andretti) keeps doing these dirty moves and as usual nothing is done to him,” Saavedra complained. “It’s just a very frustrating day. We were very strong. We were up there. Great strategy from the guys. The car was perfect. And he just punched me out. It’s just a very unfortunate situation for the TrueCar racing.”
The day began and ended under caution as there were a total of three cautions for 14 laps, including the final three after Ryan Briscoe struck the barrier. As well, AJ Allmendinger made contact with Dixon in Turn 4 on the first lap.
“I’m fine. I just jammed my thumb,” the Number 2 car driver said. “It’s sore but it’ll be fine. It was tight on the start, just got crowded. I ran into the back of Scott (Dixon) and wrecked. That was it.”
After medical attention, both Saavedra and Allmendinger have been cleared to race in Dual2.