Great Friday for RLL’s Conway in Long Beach

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Mike Conway’s first day back in IndyCar with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing couldn’t have gone much better.

The Englishman, driving the No. 17 blu eCigs Dallara-Honda as the third RLL entry, was second in both sessions and thus second fastest on the day behind Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Conway observed a solid grip level from this year’s Firestone street course tires thus far, compared to 2012’s.

“Generally the grip feels very good this weekend,” he said. “We are yet to try the reds of course and there are some differences, and we’ll have to adjust for that.”

Immediately he has begun to gel with the rest of the RLL squad, teammates Graham Rahal and James Jakes and their engineers Gerry Hughes and Eddie Jones, respectively.

“It’s great to have, as even just after first session we were close,” said Conway. “We have different styles per corner. Graham is good in 1-2, James in other corners, and we really push off each other and learn.”

For now the race is a one-off with RLL, but Conway is optimistic of other races that don’t conflict with his FIA World Endurance Championship schedule. Conway races an LMP2 class Oreca 03 Nissan for the G-Drive by Delta-ADR squad.

“I think it’s possible; we just have to work on this weekend first, and get a good result,” he said. “WEC is all confirmed and is going ahead. There are races we can do – I think the rest of street courses at least – as I think there is only one conflict.”

Indeed, the only potential conflict between WEC and an IndyCar street race is the weekend of August 31 and Sept. 1. WEC races in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with IndyCar in Baltimore.

Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski