Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
April 20, 2011
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everybody, to today's IZOD IndyCar Series conference call. We're joined today by the driver who won the most recent IZOD IndyCar Series race, Mike Conway.
Mike, thanks for taking the time to join us today.
MIKE CONWAY: Good to be with you guys.
THE MODERATOR: As I mentioned, Mike is the driver of the No. 27 Andretti Autosport car and won the Toyota Grand Prix on Sunday. The win moved him to fifth in the IZOD IndyCar Series points championships.
Mike, when you were out of the car last year recovering from your injuries suffered at Indianapolis, did you think a few short months later you'd be an IndyCar race winner?
MIKE CONWAY: You always hope so. But, you know, I think three races in would have been maybe a bit much. I knew I had the equipment to do it this year. With a real strong team around me, great teammates, things have been going well in the pre-season, I knew we had the pace to do it.
Just a case of getting around the weekend and luckily it all came together in Long Beach.
THE MODERATOR: It's been a couple of days since the win. You're back in England right now. What has been the reaction amongst the people back home?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, no, it's been great. When I landed on Tuesday morning back in the UK, that's when everything was being put in the papers after the race. Some great coverage in the big national papers here. It's been really good. Been busy all day doing phone interviews, got some TV stuff lined up. It's been great. Lots of coverage. It's gone well.
THE MODERATOR: The next race is the Itaipave Sao Paulo Indy 300 on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. You had a pretty good race last year, drove from the back of the pack into the top 10. Is Brazil a place where you think you could gain another win?
MIKE CONWAY: Well, yeah, I mean, it's definitely possible. Going to be tough as always. Great drivers in the series. It's going to be hard.
But I think the team did well there last year. I think they were top two. I think we should have a good starting point with the car there and hopefully can carry on our momentum from Long Beach and get a good result.
Yeah, I like it there. It's a cool circuit. I'll be taking opportunities, especially in the last corner. Yeah, it should be a good, fun race. With the weather in the mix, always mixes things up. Yeah, we'll see. Hopefully get some more good points on the board and try and stay in that top five.
THE MODERATOR: Brazil is a unique schedule. Practice and qualifying take place on the Saturday, with the race on Sunday. Does that affect the way you approach the race weekend?
MIKE CONWAY: Well, it's kind of good they compact it into two days. At the same time it gives you a little less time to get things done with the car. If you want to make some big changes, there's not that much time between sessions. Could be a little bit tricky. There's no time for mistakes either with everything being so compact in the schedule. We got to get it right.
I think we should be okay going into the weekend. It should be a good sign with the car being strong there last year. We have to keep chipping away each session. The main thing is to be there for qualifying and obviously be as sharp as we can.
No, it was a good schedule last year. Makes it more exciting, I think.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned the last corner of the track. Last year there were 93 passes for position in that corner. Is it the long straightaway that runs into that tight corner? What is it about that last corner on to the main straight that makes it such an enticing passing zone?
MIKE CONWAY: That's crazy, 93. That's incredible.
I think it's the long straight before. You have a slow, medium corner on that back straight. You can stay fairly close to the car in front of you. Yeah, with the 'push to pass' you can definitely get things done actually before you get to that corner.
I think that is why it's pretty close. Even though you can get a toe by, you can slot back in the car in front, make the pass in back again until you get to the corner. It makes it interesting, for sure.
I think maybe there will be opportunities to pass going back into the chicane. Yeah, I think with the long straight, it's nearly a mile long, one of the longest ones we have on the calendar.
THE MODERATOR: Obviously the main straight with the Sambadromo, last year it was a little interesting in terms of the condition of the circuit. I know they've been working on it. Not knowing what the grip level will be on that main straight, is that a concern for you at all?
MIKE CONWAY: It makes it interesting. Pretty fun actually. The first couple session when the wheels spin in fifth, sixth year, a hundred or so miles an hour, it's pretty fun.
Yeah, they did change it so it had a lot more grip on it. Yeah, no, I think the racing will be good with the changes being done before we get there. I think rubber should lay as the weekend goes on and it hopefully should be good. There will be less slipping and sliding, for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Let's open it up for questions from the media.
Q. You had such a bad time at Indy last year. Was there a time when you thought you didn't want to come back to racing?
MIKE CONWAY: No, I mean, straightaway I was thinking about when I could get back in the car. That's all I really thought about. I knew I had obviously the physical things to get over first, but mentally I was fine really. Once I knew sort of the extent of the injuries, how long it would take, my mindset was basically just set on that.
Never really thought about the accident after. It was never a positive thing for me to look back on it and see the accident. I kind of just got on with things and just focused on what I needed to do. Just got through things bit by bit.
You have to take your time with them things. It's not going to happen overnight. Yeah, just never really thought about it after that.
Q. Mike, what part has Michael Andretti played in helping you kind of learn as a driver? Did it play any factor in helping you get that win last weekend in Long Beach?
MIKE CONWAY: Obviously Michael being a very experienced driver, Mario also who was at St. Pete, Marco, the great history between the three of them. Yeah, I mean, it's great to learn from them guys. Obviously Michael lets us sort of get on with our own kind of thing. When he feels that we need some direction or some help, he always gives us his point of view. That's always very helpful.
Yeah, I mean, I didn't actually ask him before Long Beach coming into it because I knew that the car would be good there because Ryan was quick the year before. He was quick this year, too. I kind of was just more trying to learn off of Ryan and trying to move things forward from there.
It was awesome when I was on the podium to look down and see all the winning names imprinted on the floor, seeing Mario and Michael on there, Al Unser, Jr. These are the guys I get to see every race weekend. It's great that my name will be on there now and be part of a great race. Got some serious history to it.
Yeah, no, it's obviously great that Michael is a racing driver himself, so he knows driving, how we feel, how we approach every weekend. He kind of lets us get on with it, and when he feels that he needs to chip in, he does. It's always very useful.
Q. How were you able to book away from Ryan Briscoe after you passed him?
MIKE CONWAY: I've been asked this a couple of times (laughter).
I don't know. I mean, car just felt good. Once I got past him, I knew we had the pace to pull away. I don't know, just head down and just pushed for kind of a good eight to ten laps, just kind of controlled it.
Yeah, I was surprised to see how quickly I pulled away initially, two or three seconds in two or three laps. I don't know really. I really did focus on the restarts, keeping the tires warm. The last thing you want to do is pick up all the debris, marbles on the track. The warmer you can get the tires, the better. It just makes the restarts better. Maybe that was just enough to really make some good moves.
I probably don't have a real answer for you, but maybe that's part of it.
THE MODERATOR: After Brazil, the month of May starts, Indianapolis. It's been well-documented what happened to you last year during the race. Up until that point where you and Ryan actually had your contact, you were one of the fastest cars on the track, led laps in the race. Is it a place where you are looking forward to going back to?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, definitely. I mean, you know, the first time I did Indy, I thought it was such a mega-race. It's a long day. You've got time to chip away at the car and make it quicker. Unfortunately we didn't get to finish last year. But, you know, each year I've done it, I've learnt so much.
It's a great event. I can't wait to get back and start turning laps around the track because it's one of the best ones we go to. Always a great event, great crowds. Obviously, it's the home of IndyCar. I'm looking forward to it.
As I said, what happened there has happened. I'm just focusing on where I'm at now. Yeah, I mean, I can't wait.
THE MODERATOR: With the No. 27, the same number that Michael won his last Indy 500 with, obviously it may be possibly a good omen for you.
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, I hope so. I hope so. It would be nice to keep that number in Victory Lane a few more times this year, for sure.
THE MODERATOR: With that, we will wrap up today's IZOD IndyCar Series conference call. We thank Mike Conway for his time.
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