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Drivers support Conway's choice to quit ovals

Mike Conway's decision to step down from his race seat at AJ Foyt Racing because he no longer felt comfortable racing on ovals received broad support from his fellow racers on pit lane on Friday.
Mike Conway surprised everyone - even his own team - when he asked AJ Foyt Racing to release him from this weekend's MAVTV 500 IZOD IndyCar Series finale on the two-mile Auto Club Speedway oval racetrack in Fontana, California.

"I've come to realize I'm not comfortable on the ovals and no longer wish to compete on them," Conway announced on Thursday afternoon, apologising to his team and sponsors for the late decision to pull out. "This is the hardest decision I have ever made in my racing career."

His fellow racers on pit road understood his feelings and were broadly supportive of his decision.

"I look up to Mike," said championship contender Ryan Hunter-Reay on Friday at Fontana. "He was somewhere mentally that he didn't want to be. He was man enough to say, 'Hey, this is not working for me right now.'

"Instead of going out there and being in a bad place mentally in one of these cars - which is a very dangerous thing to do, these cars are dangerous enough, racing on a track like this is dangerous enough - but to be in a bad place mentally and do it is not right. That's a smart decision from him.

"Ovals haven't been that nice to him either, you know, especially with Indy," Hunter-Reay continued, referencing the horror smash in the 2010 Indianapolis 500 which started with contact between Conway and Hunter-Reay on the final lap and saw Conway's car thrown into the air and torn up by the catchfence.

Conway suffered a broken leg and neck and back injurie that sidelined him from racing for the rest of the season. On his next outing at Indy in May this year, his race also ended in a serious crash this time with Will Power, although Conway escaped this one without any major injuries.

Although Conway hasn't explained his decision in detail, Hunter-Reay was assuming that it was incidents like this that had contributed to Conway's growing unease on the longer ovals: "If he doesn't feel like it, there's other days to fight this whole thing out. He chose to do that. I really look up to him for that."

Hunter-Reay's rival for the 2012 IndyCar title, Will Power, was also sympathetic of Conway's decision: "There's no shame in what he did, at all, considering some of the things that happened to him.

"I can understand how he feels," said Power. "If the car's not right around here, you don't even want to be out there. Yeah, that's ballsy to say, Hey, I don't feel comfortable. Full credit to him.

"He's a great driver, too," Power added. "He's one of the quickest guys on the circuit. It's just the circumstance."




Related Pictures

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Will Power watches on from pit wall at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (c)2012, Jamey Price Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Ryan Hunter-Reay and Michael Andretti on pit wall at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (c)2012, Jamey Price Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Wade Cunningham in Mike Conway`s #14 car during rookie orientation for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. 10 May, 2012, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. (c) 2012, F. Peirce Williams.LAT Photo USA (Photo credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Mike Conway in pit lane before claiming fourth place on the grid for Sunday`s race on the streets of Toronto. July 2011. [Picture credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media]
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, finishes second fastest during qualifying Saturday, April 24, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Power will start in the front row next to teammate Helio Castroneves who won the pole position. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Penske Truck Rental Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, finishes third fastest during qualifying Saturday, April 24, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Pagenaud and Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Will Power had the fastest qualifying times. Castrovenes won the pole position. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V-6, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 19, 2015 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium as Juan Pablo Montoya (l to r), driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar; Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Verizon Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V-6 and Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet V-6, celebrate Saturday, April 18, 2015 after finishing third, first and second in the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 pumps his fist as he crosses the finish line, winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 races to victory Sunday, April 19, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power in action during practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in action during practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in action during practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in his pit stand prior to practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay enters Turn 10 during practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Friday April 17 2015. (Photo by Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 races to a seventh-place finish Sunday, April 12, 2015 during the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 races to a sixth-place finish Sunday, April 12, 2015 during the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud berates Ryan Hunter-Reay after their crash in turn 3 near the end of the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana on Sunday April 12 2015. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)

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