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Conway hopes first win just the start

Team boss Michael Andretti admitted that he had been amazed by Conway's win. "It was crazy and I've got to admit unexpected. It's so difficult to pass here, so I was really happy to see Mike up in the top six, and I thought, that's not bad considering what he had to go through, and at that point we were feeling good about where Ryan [Hunter-Reay] was and then all of a sudden Ryan had this [gearbox] problem and I felt really bad for him.

"And then all of a sudden everybody starts cheering, and I'm like, 'What are they cheering about?', and Mike is like, boom, going past Dario, and next thing you know he's past Briscoe. Unbelievable. And then he just walked it. I was so happy and proud."

Conway had already been looking like a strong contender for IndyCar success early in 2010 when he headed into the Indianapolis 500 in May and duly proved to be one of the fastest cars in the field. But as the leaders headed into the final lap, Mike Conway and Ryan Hunter-Reay collided and Conway was launched up into the air into the catch fence, and his car was ripped apart by the wire fencing with debris raining down onto the track and slightly injuring a number of fans.

Despite sustaining serious injuries that put him out of racing for the rest of the year, Conway never considered quitting the sport. "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.

"Initially I saw the injuries I had, and I just wasn't sure when I'd get back. Things like that can definitely stop your career. But I was just determined to not let it, determined to get back, back to fitness and back in a car.

"From there it's just an ongoing process, bit by bit, day by day, until kind of where I am now ... It was a long off‑season, but I had a lot to focus on and a lot to keep my mind on, and when I kind of got the chance to get back in the car, I was ready."

Has he even seen replays of the crash? "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."

Having such a long period out of active duty could have left him without a race deal for 2011, and it surprised many observers when Michael Andretti backed Conway and signed him up, despite having shown star driver Tony Kanaan the door just weeks earlier. But Andretti denies he had any doubts about the move.

"I don't think it was [taking] a chance," Andretti said. "I think Mike showed a lot of signs of brilliance last year at the beginning of the season and then unfortunately had his accident. Coming back, I had no question in my mind. I personally felt like he was going to be hungrier than ever coming back, and that's exactly the way it came about.

"I was so happy that we were able to put a deal together with Mike because I was really wanting him all the way from the end of last year, and the deal came together really late and I was very happy because I felt like he was going to be a great addition to the team not only as a great talent, but he just fits in with the other three drivers, which is quite important to have that chemistry ... because of that, I feel really good about the rest of this year. I think we're going to be strong."




Related Pictures

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Photo by Dan Helrigel - IndyCar Media - The winner of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Andretti Autosports` Mike Conway.
Mike Conway and Team Owner Ed Carpenter celebrate victory in Race 2 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway on his way to victory in the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway jumps for joy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway with the winner`s flag after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway receives the winner`s trophy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates with the Ed Carpenter Racing team after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates victory in the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Eric Anderson for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates victory in the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Eric Anderson for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag, racing to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the first of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the first of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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