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Cars > Honda > Honda Racing IndyCar Long Beach 2011

 By Ketan Patel View Comments

Image Copyright: Honda Racing


Honda Racing IndyCar Long Beach 2011

Refusing to give up after a mistake during his first pit stop left him 22nd, Andretti Autosport's Mike Conway put on a late-race charge Sunday at the Grand Prix of Long Beach to pass both Dario Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe to score his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory.

In just his third race back since suffering season-ending injuries at the 2010 Indianapolis 500, Conway started third in today's 27-car field, but locked his brakes and slid past his pit stall during the first round of scheduled pit stops on Lap 27. Returning in 22nd, Conway gained a half-dozen positions during the middle of the 85-lap race, putting himself into a position where he could capitalize on the mistakes of others following a Lap 66 restart, when three separate incidents eliminated or delayed the likes of Will Power, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Oriol Servia.

Taking the green flag in sixth after the third and final full-course caution on Lap 70, Conway quickly moved past rookie James Hinchcliffe and veteran Alex Tagliani to take third, then made similar passes on successive laps of Dario Franchitti and race leader Ryan Briscoe to become the sixth and final race leader of the day.

Conway's inaugural IndyCar victory is the first for Andretti Autosport since Tony Kanaan won for the team at Iowa Speedway in 2010.

In addition, continuing a five-year tradition of equality and reliability, all 27 Honda-powered drivers and teams completed the race weekend without a single failure of the Honda Indy V-8 engine. This weekend, the teams logged a total of 9,257 trouble-free miles on the streets of Long Beach.

Behind Conway, Briscoe took advantage of a pit-call gamble by team boss Roger Penske early in the race to finish second after starting 12th, while Franchitti moved into the early-season points lead with his third-place run. Hinchcliffe continued his run of impressive finishes with fourth for Newman Haas Racing, while fellow Canadian Tagliani rounded out the top five.

After starting the season with three road races over the past four weeks, the IZOD IndyCar Series now takes one week off before continuing on May 1 with the first international event of the year, the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

IZOD IndyCar Series Championship (after 3 of 17 races):
1. Dario Franchitti 122 points (1 win) 6. Alex Tagliani 73
2. Will Power 115 (1 win) 7. Scott Dixon 66
3. Tony Kanaan 87 Ryan Briscoe 66
4. Oriol Servia 80 Simona de Silvestro 66
5. Mike Conway 74 (1 win) 10. Vitor Meira 64

Mike Conway (#28 Andretti Autosport Honda) started 3rd, finished 1st, his first IndyCar victory, first first-time winner in the series since Ryan Briscoe at The Milwaukee Mile in 2008: "I locked a wheel on my first pit stop, slid past my pit stall and thought it was all over. My mistake. But the team hung in there and car really came alive after that final pit stop. I made the same move on both Dario [Franchitti] and Ryan [Briscoe]. It was like they were both struggling to get temperature in their tires and my car was good to go. I took my time, picked my point, and was able to pull away. As soon as I got in the lead, I was already thinking of winning. But I knew I had to forget about that and get with the job at hand. The car was great. I could push all the time and control the gap."

Ryan Briscoe (#6 Team Penske Honda) started 12th, finished 2nd: "Roger [Penske] made a great call on our first pit stop, coming in just before the yellow made up for our problems in qualifying yesterday. Our car was strong today, but [Mike] Conway was lightning fast and we had nothing for him at the end. Finishing second is a huge confidence boost for our team and I just want to keep moving forward now."

Dario Franchitti (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started 7th, finished 3rd, takes over the early-season drivers' championship points lead: "Our car was quick everywhere except coming out of the hairpin and onto the front straight, and that made it very difficult to overtake today, so that's probably something we need to improve for next year. But Mike Conway was in a class of his own, congratulations to him. This was a good result for us today, and we're right where we want to be in the championship, but there still are many, many races to go this year."

Erik Berkman (President, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "That was an exciting race today, and it was good to see a fresh face in victory circle. Congratulations to Mike Conway, Michael Andretti, Tom Anderson and the entire Andretti Autosport team. Thanks to large group of Honda associates who came out at the ‘home' race for American Honda to support our efforts on track and enjoy another excellent Grand Prix of Long Beach."

Honda Racing IndyCar Long Beach 2011


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