Mike Conway is to have at least one outing in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2013, after Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing handed the British driver a seat for April's race on the streets of Long Beach.
Conway won the event in 2011 with a thrilling series of late-race overtakes at a succession of restarts, while driving for the Andretti Autosport team. Conway moved to AJ Foyt Racing in 2012 and despite a solid year he surprised everyone by opting to pull out of the season finale at Auto Club Speedway after confessing he no longer felt happy driving on ovals.
As a result, it was thought that he would not be back in the IndyCar Series in 2013, but Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has decided to tap his race-winning skills at Long Beach to their advantage.
“I am very happy to announce I will be racing with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in the upcoming event at Long Beach in April,” confirmed Conway on Monday. "The team has proven their speed and technical excellence in the past and I can't wait to start working with everybody."
Conway has already worked with race engineer Eddie Jones, who was Marco Andretti's engineer at Andretti Autosport, pointing out: "We would debrief as a group. He knows his stuff and has been around a long time so it should be fun working together."
Team co-owner Bobby Rahal revealed that he'd tried hard to get Conway on board at RLL before now.
"In 2011, Mike Lanigan and I met with Mike and his representatives and were really working hard to get him into the team but it didn't work out," the Indy 500 winner explained. "Fortunately we are able to do so now. Mike is a very good driver and I think he will be very competitive in our environment."
At Long Beach, Conway will be driving alongside the team's regular driver, Bobby's son Graham Rahal. “He and Graham get along well so it's a real one-two punch for us," said Bobby.
As for his future plans, Conway was quick to say that Long Beach wasn't a final swan song encore for him, and that despite deciding not to race on ovals again in the future he hoped that he would continue to race in the IZOD IndyCar Series at road and street course events.
"I hope to add more races for the upcoming season but in the meantime, I look forward to getting back on a circuit that I previously won on!” he confirmed.