Dreyer & Reinbold Racing boss Dennis Reinbold has hailed Mike Conway's efforts at Watkins Glen, as the rookie produced a breakthrough performance to run as high as second overall before having to settle for a career-best sixth place at the finish of the Camping World Grand Prix.
A weekend at a road course was just what the doctor ordered for DRR's beleaguered Briton, whose effort had not been rewarded with results over the oval-dominated first half of the IndyCar season. Returning to the sort of venue on which he had made his name in Europe before turning his attention to the USA last winter, Conway revelled in the swooping Watkins Glen course, taking the #24 Dad's Root Beer machine to new highs in both qualifying and the race.
As the green flag dropped, he made a flawless start, moving from sixth to fifth position on the first lap and continuing to climb the order as the race progressed, running second for much of the time in an all-British 1-2 behind former champion Dario Franchitti. With near perfect pit-stops, Conway appeared on course to earn the right reward for a good, consistent race before, on the last stop, dropping back to fifth.
Despite continuing to run strongly, the #24 Dallara began to suffer problems with its balance and, on the last lap, Conway was passed by the recovering Marco Andretti, leaving him a disappointed sixth at the chequered flag.
“It was a great result for everybody, and we ran strong all day, but it was a shame that we couldn't quite get the result in the end," he sighed, "It was a case of me coming out of the box and losing a couple of seconds. That gave me the gap to Justin Wilson and everyone came in between us. We were running top five and saving fuel, but I struggled with the balance in the end, even though we still brought the Dad's Root Beer car home in sixth place. The crew did a great job all weekend and I'm looking forward to Toronto now.”
The 3.37-mile former USGP circuit has been good to DRR for the past three years, having seen one of the team's cars in the top six each time, with Conway's result making it four, even if he was unable to add to the team's first podium, courtesy of Ryan Briscoe, in 2006.
“Today was a good day," Reinbold insisted, "We ended up in sixth place, and we are disappointed in that, because we wanted to hold onto fifth, but we struggled with the balance and Mike had to hang on in the end. As a result, he lost a spot on the last lap. It's not his fault - it's just something that didn't work out to our advantage. Overall we had a good solid race, with good pit-stops, and we will take the points and use that to our advantage in Toronto.”