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Conway: 'Stay calm and seize the moment'

Mike Conway won his second Verizon IndyCar Series race of the year, thanks to an early decision to make a risky change to slick tyres.
Timing is everything, and Mike Conway certainly proved that on Sunday afternoon. His call to switch to slick tyres earlier than anyone else proved to be the pivotal moment on which the outcome of the entire race hinged.

"I knew as soon as I could see the dry line I knew it was time to come in, and it was a great call," he said. "The guys were up for it. I wasn't sure what they were going to say [but] from there we just kind of took off and just controlled the race."

Conway made the call with 20 minutes remaining in the race, which had started in the dry but then been hit by a mid-race shower which had forced the field to change to wet weather tyres. But by lap 42, Conway was convinced it was time to go back to the slicks.

"Just a case of just the track condition," he explained afterwards. "It was more dry down in curve 1, down the back straight but the rest of it, there were patches forming.

"I knew how humid it was and the temperature it was going to dry pretty quick after that point because it normally gets greasy and then you start to see lines and as you saw within a few laps, running on slicks, the lines were opening up everywhere," he continued. "I knew I had to make a call at that moment because the wet guys were coming off and they were only going to go slower, so it worked out really well."

That's a classic case of English understatement: a full course caution a lap later for Sebastian Saavedra planting himself in the tyres at turn 3 gave everyone else the opportunity to pit under yellow, but Conway had no need to come in again and so was able to stay out, putting him ahead of Will Power and Tony Kanaan for the restart which set him up for a charge to the finish line.

Team owner Ed Carpenter admitted that he'd initially been a little anxious about Conway's call to go onto the slicks again when he did, but had been determined to follow his driver's instincts.

"When it comes to going to the wets or going off the wets, Mike feels the car," said Carpenter. "All the drivers have more information at that point than we do [in pit lane] and that's one of the things I told Mike when he got in: it was slick - it was obviously slick yesterday - so it's your call. If it starts sprinkling and you think you're going to need them, a little bit before you may really need them, it's your call, tell us when you're coming in. And it's the same way going back to slicks."

Up until that point, Conway had just been concentrating on staying out of trouble, drawing upon his wide experience of several different types of motor racing to help him through.

"I suppose with having a seat in an endurance car maybe is pretty helpful [with] the changing conditions, but IndyCar is the same thing," he said. "These races are so tricky. The first half of the race you've got to be smart really and it's so true, you've got to not make any mistakes and let the race come to you a little bit, and it seems to happen that way.

"The conditions today were really tricky, with the rain and [yet] dry in places," Conway continued. "I knew I just didn't want to push too hard or risk anything at that point and I knew people were going to try to get by me, and I was going to fight as much as I could but not have the chance of going off. So I had to play it smart and make the moves when I could and you could see the cars going off and making mistakes - so easy to do here in a tenth of a second too late on the brakes, something can easily go wrong.

"I had to be calm and seize my moment," he added.

Conway's win in the second round of this weekend's Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader is his second win of the season after Long Beach and the fourth of his Verizon IndyCar Series career with previous victories for Dale Coyne Racing and Andretti Autosport. Along with Carpenter's success at Texas Motor Speedway that makes it three wins for ECR in 2014 - not bad at all for a small one-car team.

"We're trying to grow this for the team and get results for our partners, and it's been nice to be able to do that more consistently so far this year," said Carpenter, whose decision to bring in Conway for road and street course races while he himself handled oval events had paid off handsomely for the team.

"We had won before as a team, so I personally felt like we had better cars on road and street courses than what I was able to show," he admitted. "The cars were better than I was.

"That was a big part of the reason we brought Mike in, to be stronger all the time," Carpenter added. "Mike's one hell of a racer. It's about him leading races. When you get him in position, when we do a good enough job or today him making the right call, when he gets in those positions he elevates his game and rises to the occasion.

"You know, you saw today he drove away from guys that have been fast all weekend, and maybe the win at Long Beach, not the fastest car the whole race, but when he gets in that position he doesn't let go of it. We're happy he's on our team!"

And Conway certainly seems happy to be at ECR, which is possibly the best fit with a team that he's enjoyed in his IndyCar career so far.

"All credit to Ed to give me the chance to get in the car, and it's been working out great," the driver beamed. "Can't thank Ed enough and the team for working so hard and giving me the cars to win the races.

"It's been a lot of fun," he added. "I came into this team expecting that we would get good results, and I know the guys are really good and worked with a few of them before, so I knew we could get the results. It just takes us getting out there and doing it.

"So, yeah, really happy: two wins so far and Ed has won as well. Working out well for us!"

And there's four more races left in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Conway is back for the next event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 3 as well as the race at Sonoma Raceway, and Carpenter back behind the wheel for the two oval events at Milwaukee and Fontana where he won in 2012, so don't be surprised to see the Ed Carpenter Racing colours back in victory lane at one or even more of those events.

Related Pictures

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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 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 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 and Team Owner Ed Carpenter celebrate victory in Race 2 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
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