It’s officially one or the other time for Mike Conway in 2015, with WEC calendar out


Today’s FIA World Endurance Championship calendar release will have an impact into the Verizon IndyCar Series in terms of any of its drivers participating in WEC races next season.

Particularly Mike Conway, who’s been IndyCar’s part-time badass de jour the last two seasons and is attempting to figure out his future.

Conway has served as Toyota Racing’s reserve driver for 2014 and made his WEC debut at Austin last month. He may get the opportunity for one more WEC start this season, but surprisingly was not nominated to fill in for Nicolas Lapierre in his absence this weekend in Fuji.

In looking ahead to the 2015 WEC calendar just released, there are at least three and potentially up to five direct head-to-head conflicts between WEC and IndyCar.

The confirmed ones first:

  • March 27-28: WEC Prologue Paul Ricard; IndyCar St. Petersburg
  • April 12: WEC Silverstone; IndyCar NOLA
  • May 31: WEC Le Mans Test Day; IndyCar Detroit

Granted, two of those three are official tests. But while Conway could afford to miss the test days as a reserve driver this year, it’s unlikely he’d be able to miss them as one of Toyota’s six regular full-season drivers.

The other two come if 2014 dates change weekends once they’re officially confirmed by IndyCar, and those would be at Toronto and Sonoma.

Toronto is expected to land a June date given the Pan-Am Games forcing a move from its usual July slot, and there’s only has two weekends it could realistically slot in – June 13-14 or 20-21.

If IndyCar moves its Iowa race to June 20 as is possible given a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, June 19, then there’s only one option.

That would pose another direct conflict, with Le Mans, June 13-14.

Of course that wouldn’t affect just Conway, but any IndyCar drivers who would want to run the midsummer endurance classic and would be able to if their contracts and schedules allow.

The potential last conflict would occur in August. Sonoma’s date was tentatively listed on the preliminary Pirelli World Challenge schedule as August 22-23 but is now likely to be the last weekend in August, per ticket renewal forms. That would run head-to-head with WEC at the Nurburgring on August 30.

So here’s what this means for Conway: he’s either in or out for one or the other. He can’t do both in terms of IndyCar and WEC, unless he only runs selected IndyCar rounds on non-conflicting WEC weekends.

And if he’s out in IndyCar, there’s a 2014 race-winning No. 20 CFH Racing Chevrolet seat that will need a driver for road and street course races. It would be a perfect landing spot for an American like JR Hildebrand or Conor Daly, for instance.

The ball is still in Conway’s court, but he’s now at the point where he’ll need to clone himself if he wants to keep the same schedule.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.