Conway wins wet, chaotic Race 2 in Toronto
20 July 2014 – Mike Conway has won by 3.5 seconds in a dramatic wet/dry second race in IndyCar's Toronto doubleheader.
Pitting earlier in the race to take rain tyres along with the rest of the field, Conway eventually switched to slicks on lap 43 - long before many other drivers did. He was then able to stay out when the leaders pitted for the final time to switch back to slicks, and his gamble paid off as another caution and a red flag allowed him to nurse his tyres home before pulling out a massive gap after the final restart over Tony Kanaan and Will Power.
Charlie Kimball and Takuma Sato rounded out the top five ahead of rookie Jack Hawksworth, Scott Dixon, Marco Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais and Justin Wilson.
The race order was set by entrant points after yesterday's event was delayed until this morning due to rain. As a result, Conway started P11 before winning his first race since Long Beach back in April.
The race began with the fourth standing start of the year in the IndyCar series, and the field got away cleanly. Justin Wilson stalled his car but was not hit by anyone, and he was soon re-fired and joined the rest of the field. His return to the back of the pack was aided when Kanaan was pushed toward the tyre barrier midway through the first lap. He stopped short of it, but he stalled his engine in the process.
Shortly after the restart, Simon Pagenaud began to slow down on the backstretch, letting most of the field by as his team instructed him on the radio how to restart the electronics. The car didn't seem much healthier as he eventually limped it back into the pits.
In the meantime, Helio and Power began to gap Ryan Hunter-Reay in third, but the American soon found himself behind countless cars as rain began to fall on the circuit. As the field began to deliberate whether or not to pit for wets, Juan Pablo Montoya was caught in an incident in turn eight which saw him come to a rest with his nose in the tyre wall.
Moments later, Russian rookie Mikhail Aleshin slid around the corner and ended up submarining under the Colombian's Penske machine, with Montoya's right rear tyre landing dangerously close to Aleshin's head.
As safety crews worked, Aleshin incredibly emerged from the car unscathed - albeit with several tyre marks on his helmet and visor.
As the rain intensified, most of the field came in for slick tyres except for Race 1 winner Bourdias and last week's second-place runner Josef Newgarden. The task of keeping the car in a straight line in the wet proved difficult, though, as the two soon began to fall down the order, aided by Newgarden spinning on the frontstretch.
The caution finally came out when Carlos Huertas lost a rear bumper on the frontstretch. At the same time, Sebastian Saavedra also found the Turn 8 tyre wall. By the time the race resumed, the rain was much worse and visibility had decreased significantly. Hawksworth spun as a result, and Luca Filippi spun into the barriers as well.
For the Italian Filippi, his rough weekend continued despite creeping into the top five in both races before incidents knocked him out of contention. He would finish P13 despite running in the top six with five laps remaining.
It was at this point when IndyCar decided to make the race a timed event having already whittled it down from 85 laps to 65 (or, in this case, from two hours to 80 minutes).
On lap 41, Power made his move for the lead over Castroneves, who would continue to fade in the final laps of the race due to a broken front wing before finishing P12. Power, in the meantime, tried to gap the field but was stymied when Saavedra stalled the car after hitting the tyre wall again.
The issue was whether to stay out on wets despite a drying track or come in for dries with very little time remaining. Power and most of the frontrunners made the call, but Wilson, Newgarden, Huertas, Filippi and Conway stayed out having already switched to dries during the previous caution. They would lead the field to green just a few laps later, but by then the track was notably drier and their tyres were well worn. Still, Conway sliced his way through the new frontrunners and had the lead after a few quick laps.
With nine minutes to go, Bourdais was pushed toward the runoff and stalled the car, but caution was not thrown. Instead, it would come out moments later when a chain reaction of contact caused a massive pileup on the backstretch. In the melee was championship contender Hunter-Reay, amongst others, who continued to bleed points over the course of this weekend after the perfect strategy call helped him win last week in Iowa.
Due to the dwindling time and large swath of debris, IndyCar decided to red flag the race - a familiar sight by now for fans this weekend.
When the race resumed a few minutes later, no one had an answer for Conway as he lapped the soggy course three seconds per lap quicker than P2 Wilson. Kanaan saw his opportunity as well and overtook the Brit for second place, but his pace wasn't quick enough to catch up to Conway, who comfortably crossed the line to take his second victory of 2014. His win marks the third this year for Ed Carpenter Racing, with the team's owner (who drives the car on ovals before handing the car to Conway for road courses) coming in P1 at Texas earlier this season.