Conway’s bid for IndyCar sweep in Detroit comes up short

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Starting from pole in the second Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit race today at Belle Isle, Mike Conway once again appeared to have the car to beat after destroying the field in yesterday’s first doubleheader race. But a potential sweep in the Motor City – which would’ve also earned him a $50,000 bonus – was not to be for the Dale Coyne Racing driver, who had to settle for third place behind race winner Simon Pagenaud and fellow Englishman James Jakes in second.

Nonetheless, Conway, in a one-off role for DCR this weekend on Belle Isle, showed just how much of a dynamite road/street racer he is. He insists that he’ll never again race an open-wheel machine on an oval – something he gave up shortly before last year’s season finale at Fontana, California – but when it comes to racing on IndyCar’s twisty tracks, he’s now thoroughly established himself as a force to be reckoned with.

Conway momentarily lost the lead to Will Power while A.J. Allmendinger crashed on the opening lap, but got it right back on the next restart and maintained it through the ragged opening stages of Race 2. He and Scott Dixon pitted from first and second positions during the caution after a 10-car pileup on Lap 28, and Conway would eventually cycle back to the front on Lap 40 when Tristan Vautier abandoned the lead to come to pit road.

Six laps later, Conway was passed by Charlie Kimball just before he made his final stop of the day on Lap 47. When everything shook out following the stops, Conway was left in third position behind Jakes. As Pagenaud widened his insurmountable lead in the closing circuits, the two Brits battled for the runner-up spot before Jakes won out narrowly.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Conway. “It didn’t quite go our way today though. The right rear tire went down on reds, and I lost spots to Kimball and later Pagenaud. On the blacks, I pushed as hard as I could. I passed like six cars in one lap at one point. We didn’t quite have enough at the end; used our last push-to-pass too early.”

His IndyCar work is done for now, with his next likely appearance at Toronto’s doubleheader in July – Conway all but confirmed it during the post-race press conference. In the interim, Conway will shift focus back to his full-time sports car duties in the FIA World Endurance Championship. He and his No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca/Nissan teammates Roman Rusinov and John Martin make up one of 22 LMP2 entries slated for this year’s running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 22.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, points

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

POINTS: Standings after Rolex 24 at Daytona l Michelin Endurance Cup standings l Daytona endurance points

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.