Conway Wins Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach following multi-car crash

1609789_10152035436485848_3573570377362358477_nEd Carpenter’s decision to put a road course standout in his Verizon IndyCar Series car this season paid off Sunday when Mike Conway won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Carpenter, the owner-driver of Ed Carpenter Racing, is an oval-track specialist, and he stepped out of the Chevrolet-powered car in favor of Conway, who won his third career IndyCar race and his second at Long Beach.

With a front wing broken on the first lap, Conway took the lead with two circuits left when Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon was forced to pit road for more fuel. Conway then held off Team Penske’s Will Power for the win.

Conway won this race for Andretti Autosport in 2011.

Sunday’s lead pack got shuffled on Lap 55 of 80 when pole winner Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport banged into Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden in a battle for the lead.

Newgarden said he didn’t expect Hunter-Reay to dart inside him in Turn 4, and the bump sent them sliding to the left side of the narrow track. Running fourth, Power swung to the right and motored on, but others weren’t so fortunate.

James Hinchcliffe followed Hunter-Reay, his teammate, into the mess. A couple of cars got through safely, but Helio Castroneves couldn’t, running into the back of Hunter-Reay, and the entanglement of Newgarden and Hinchcliffe sat in the blind path of Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato and rookie Jack Hawksworth.

Hinchcliffe, who suffered a sprain left thumb in the crash, took a swipe at Hunter-Reay.

“Patience is a virtue and someone wasn’t virtuous,” he said. “It was a rookie move.”

Hunter-Reay tried to explain the move, saying both he and Newgarden could have done something different.

IndyCar’s first standing start of the season happened without much of a hitch, although Hinchcliffe’s car bobbled just a bit at first, costing him four positions. Sebastien Bourdais, a three-time Long Beach winner, jumped up to the spot vacated by Hinchcliffe.

Bourdais’ spot near the front lasted only through the first pit stop. With Hunter-Reay getting service on Lap 26, Bourdais made a mistake trying to hustle the car back around the track, and he ran straight into the tires at Turn 8. That Hinchcliffe was on his tail likely contributed to carrying too much speed into the corner. Fourteen laps later he was back in a tire barrier.

Those weren’t the only contacts. On the restart that ensued, Justin Wilson was spun around in the hairpin, Turn 11, by Graham Rahal. Rahal received a penalty for avoidable contact.

Moments later, Power’s bump on Simon Pagenaud in the left rear corner sent Pagenaud into the tire barrier. IndyCar’s race control deemed that a racing incident and did not punish Power.

On the television broadcast, former driver Paul Tracy, who was known for his aggressiveness, quipped that Power’s move “looks like something I would have done back in the day.”

Like Rahal, Bourdais had to drive slowly down pit road under green for his team, KV Racing Technology, repairing his car in a period of the caution when the pits were closed.

Ganassi teammates Ryan Briscoe and Charlie Kimball each retired from the race before the halfway point due to issues they said were related to the Chevrolet engine.

Colombians Carlos Munoz, a rookie, and Juan Pablo Montoya, back in the series this season for the first time since 2000, finished third and fourth, respectively. Pagenaud rallied to finish fifth.

Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Results:

Pos. Car # Driver Diff TL Status
1 20 Mike Conway Winner 80 Running
2 12 Will Power 0.900 80 Running
3 34 Carlos Munoz 1.559 80 Running
4 2 Juan Pablo Montoya 2.022 80 Running
5 77 Simon Pagenaud 2.816 80 Running
6 7 Mikhall Aleshin 3.857 80 Running
7 16 Oriol Servia 4.962 80 Running
8 25 Marco Andretti 8.194 80 Running
9 17 Sebastion Saavedra 8.902 80 Running
10 18 Carlos Huertas 24.229 80 Running
11 3 Hello Castroneves 30.055 80 Running
12 9 Scott Dixon 30.731 80 Running
13 15 Graham Rahal -1 Lap 79 Running
14 11 Sebastien Bourdais -3 Laps 77 Running
15 90 Jack Hawksworth -3 Laps 77 Running
16 19 Justin Wilson -16 Laps 64 Accident
17 8 Ryan Briscoe -20 Laps 60 Running
18 10 Tony Kanaan -25 Laps 55 Accident
19 67 Josef Newgarden -25 Laps 55 Accident
20 29 Ryan Hunter-Reay -25 Laps 55 Accident
21 27 James Hinchcliffe -25 Laps 55 Accident
22 14 Takuma Sato -25 Laps 55 Accident
23 83 Charlie Kimball -39 Laps 41 Off Course
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