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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 and Carlos Munoz flank winner Mike Conway during their victory lap (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrating his victory (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz, Mike Conway and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz, Mike Conway and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway in action in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway poses for pictures after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway poses for pictures after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway and team boss Ed Carpenter pose for pictures after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates with champagne after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates with champagne after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway poses for pictures with the team from Ed Carpenter Racing after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates pole position in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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