OK, so I'm not the most eloquent today, but what we witnessed yesterday was a tremendous, emotional win for Mike Conway and Andretti Autosport. By know we've all processed that almost a year ago, this guy had a horrific, horrific accident at Indy, and he's come all the way back to win at Long Beach. But what some are forgetting is his signing with Andretti was met with some puzzlement/surprise by many, and disappointment by a few. Yesterday, Mike Conway put paid to any critics, with a performance that counts among the most masterful we've seen. Simply put, he dominated on the last restart; passing those in front of him as if he could not be stopped. And, as it turns out, he couldn't.
|Welcome back, Mike!|
Indy Lights: Daly Takes It: Conor Daly didn't even get to participate in the first round of Indy Lights practice, since he was jetting in from a test in Spain for GP3. However, he qualified well and ran upfront, taking the lead after front-runner Josef Newgarden went wide in a turn and ended up buried in the tires. Earlier in the race, Irishman Peter Dempsey also crashed while leading. It was a solid race for Indy Lights, who we won't see again until Indy.
Early Snoozer Catches Fire: The double-wide start to this race was ragged, and mostly single file in nature. Not much passing early on for first 25+ laps, but once the first pit stop came along and tire strategies started to change things up, the passing really started. Don't forget; Mike Conway was as far down as 21st/22nd after a disastrous first pit stop and coming back in for a splash of fuel.
There was plenty of mid-pack passing especially, and this was as lively a street course as you'll see in the latter third of the race in particular.
Parity: Five different teams were represented in the race's Top 5. 2 Andretti cars, 2 Penskes, 2 Newman/Haas cars, a Ganassi, a SSM, a Foyt, and a KV Racing car made up your Top 10. Qualifying was close, the race was close. You cannot overstate how close these drivers are to one another right now.
Newman/Haas Resurgent: Following a development we've been watching all year, James Hinchcliffe finished 4th (in his second IndyCar race), and Oriol Servia finished 6th. Servia also probably had the move of the race (outside of Conway's pass), avoiding Helio and Power's spin late in the race by looping his car around and gunning it right back in line.
Whoops: Ana Beatriz spun before the race even started. It was a rough weekend for Bia, but she managed to finish 2 laps down in 19th. Hopefully, Bia will recover further from her wrist injury and be ready to rock n' roll for her home race in Brazil.
Paging The FCC: After taking out Sebastien Bourdais in a pit lane mishap, Marco Andretti dropped the f-bomb--"I have no f***ing idea" over the very much live radio transmission. Marco then started to walk away from his wreched car, but as it turns out the car wasn't done yet, so he got back in. It was a pretty entertaining series of events. It was especially a shame for Bourdais, who was progressing rapidly through the field at the time of the incident.
Graham Not Making Friends: Graham Rahal clipped Vitor Meira and a Newman/Haas crewman in the pits during the race. He was in an incident with Takuma Sato on track that knocked Sato down to a 21st-place finish. He complained about JR Hildebrand slowing him down during qualifications. So far, it is safe to say this is not the season Graham Rahal wanted.
Viso: Another race, another crash for EJ Viso. When does it end? Not anytime soon, apparently. I can only imagine the frustration on that team right now. In a case of people in glass house throwing stones, Mario Moraes attempted to trash his former teammate on Twitter, before being reminded several times of his own ill-starred tenure with KV Racing. His offending tweet was soon removed.
Rookie of the Year Update: With one less race than the other competitors and an aforementioned 4th place finish, James Hinchcliffe jumped up to five points behind JR Hildebrand in the Rookie of the Year chase. If he keeps it up and the other rookies don't pick up the pace, they might be in trouble.
Next Up: The series has a two-week turnaround before May 1st's race in Sao Paulo, Brazil. And then it will be time for the Month of May, and the lead up to the Indy 500. Not that we're excited or anything...
Image courtesy of IndyCar Media