Conway wins race 1 in Detroit doubleheader
Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Just days after securing a ride with Dale Coyne Racing, Mike Conway won the first race in the IndyCar Series doubleheader this weekend at Detroit's Belle Isle Park.
Dale Coyne Racing revealed this past Tuesday that Conway would drive its No. 18 car for both races in Detroit. Ana Beatriz drove that car for the first five races this season, including last Sunday's Indianapolis 500. Conway did not compete in this year's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Starting second, Conway put on a dominating performance in Saturday's 70-lap event on the 2.36-mile, 13-turn Belle Isle circuit. The 29-year-old Englishman led a total of 47 laps and crossed the finish line 13 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Ryan Hunter-Reay, the defending series champion.
Earlier in the day, Conway won the pole position for the second race here, which will be held on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET). Conway's lap in 1 minute, 18.0977 seconds allowed him to claim his maiden pole in IndyCar. It also was the first pole win for team owner Dale Coyne.
"The car has been great all weekend, and as the track was rubbering in, it was getting better and better," Conway said. "It was keep pushing and get a gap, and the strategy worked out perfectly at the end. I wanted to stay out and do more laps."
Conway scored his second career IndyCar victory. His first win came in April 2011 on the street circuit in Long Beach, Calif. He drove for Andretti Autosport at the time. Conway finished 21st in last year's IndyCar points, driving for A.J. Foyt Racing. His best finish of the season was third in Toronto.
Justin Wilson, who is Conway's teammate, finished third to give Dale Coyne Racing two of the three podium positions.
"Want to go to Toronto?" Coyne said to Conway after the race. "We were impressed this morning. We've never had a driver qualify on the pole, let alone win, lead the most laps, set the fastest lap, everything he did. It's pretty amazing on his part and for the entire team to put both cars in the top three."
Scheduled for July 13-14, Toronto is the second of three doubleheader weekends in IndyCar this year. Houston's Reliant Park, which is a new venue on the series' schedule, is slated for Oct.5-6.
Scott Dixon took the fourth spot. Dixon won last year's race in Detroit, leading all 60 laps.
"Tough day," he said. "I don't feel too bad. The pace of the race was very high. It felt like it was qualifying all over again almost every lap."
Dixon's teammate, Dario Franchitti, finished sixth after starting 11th. Franchitti won Friday's qualifying for race 1 but had been penalized with a 10-grid spot penalty for an unapproved engine change at Indianapolis. That allowed E.J. Viso and Conway to start from the front row. Viso finished 17th.
With his sixth-place run, Helio Castroneves reclaimed the lead in the point standings. Castroneves enters Sunday's event with just a three-point advantage over Hunter-Reay.
Marco Andretti came to Detroit with the points lead, but Andretti finished three laps behind in 20th. He is now four points behind.
Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Graham Rahal and James Jakes completed the top-10.
A.J. Allmendinger, who is running a partial schedule for Team Penske this season, crashed on the opening lap and finished 25th. Allmendinger's team is hopeful his car will be repaired in time for race 2.
"Just a tight start," Allmendinger said. "I had guys on both sides of me, and I ran into the back of Scott Dixon. That was my fault. Everybody checked up in front of me. I was more worried about the guys inside of me and wasn't ready for them to check up on me early."
06/01 19:43:21 ET