Mike Conway’s come-from-behind IndyCar win at Long Beach nearly two weeks ago may have been a surprise to some.
But it wasn’t a surprise to team owner Ed Carpenter or Conway himself. They both had confidence in each other for a strong run and a high finish – and the win was just an added bonus.
“It was a stunning win for the Ed Carpenter Racing/Fuzzy’s Vodka team, as they did a tremendous job preparing the car, making good pit stops and the an excellent strategy for the race,” Conway said.
“There was a lot of banging and shoving at the start and we broke the right front wing. I think the team was more concerned about that wing than I was during the race. The wing was flapping a little but the car was good.”
Conway now wants to double-up on what was his second career win at Long Beach – and third overall win in the IndyCar series (also won at Detroit last year) – with a second straight win in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.
The 90-lap race around the 2.38-mile, 17-turn natural terrain Barber course, located just east of Birmingham, Ala., suits Conway’s style just fine.
“It feels very good to come to the Barber track as the winner of the last Verizon IndyCar Series race,” Conway said in a team media release. “I like the Barber circuit a lot. It’s a cool track, very fast flowing. It is hard to pass there, but it’s still possible.”
Conway will split driving the No. 20 Chevrolet with Carpenter this season. Conway will handle all road and street races, while Carpenter will drive in the six oval track events, including next month’s Indianapolis 500 (Carpenter won the pole there last year).
“I think we have a great combination with Ed on the ovals and me driving the streets and roads,” Conway said. “It felt fantastic to repay them for their trust in me.”
It’s a good partnership. Carpenter doesn’t like road/street courses, while Conway doesn’t like ovals. The fact Carpenter won at Detroit, as well as four wins in the World Endurance Championship for sports cars last season, definitely caught Carpenter’s eye.
“I needed to look at the potential of Ed Carpenter Racing,” said Carpenter, the only owner/driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series. “While I improved in road racing, I felt it was better overall for ECR and our partners to put a contender in the car for the roads.
“And Mike immediately showed he can find the winner’s circle. People think I was very smart already with the move, but I felt Mike always could win with this team. We have a strong organization at ECR.”
The Long Beach win helped avenge Conway’s disappointing 16th-place finish in the season opener at St. Petersburg, Fla. He was headed toward a potential podium finish, but a miscommunication on the team radio cost him dearly.
Even so, the Long Beach win righted the wrong from St. Pete, elevating Conway to second in the series standings heading into this weekend.
“I qualified on the front row in the first IndyCar Series race at Barber,” said Conway, 30. “I’d really like to do that again. I feel we can transfer the Long Beach win into a good showing this weekend at Barber.”
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