Sometimes things have a funny way of working themselves out. On a weekend that saw Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais, and Josef Newgarden separate themselves from the field, it was Mike Conway that stole the show. Starting in 17th position, Conway drove the Fuzzy’s sponsored Ed Carpenter machine to victory lane as he became a two-time winner at Long Beach (2011). Will Power dodged another controversial incident to finish in second place. Carlos Munoz finished third, giving him two podium finishes in just five career IndyCar races. Juan Montoya and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five in Sunday’s race.
Obviously the big storyline that everyone is talking about was the incident that collected the three best cars in the race. Was it Hunter-Reay’s fault for being too aggressive? Was it Newgarden’s fault for not letting the inevitable pass take place? Hunter-Reay’s boss, Michael Andretti, and teammate (Hinchcliffe) both acknowledged that it was Ryan’s mistake. It may not have been the wrong time, but it was definitely the wrong place.
It was a tough break for Newgarden and team owner Sarah Fisher. After taking the high road on television, Sarah went the opposite route on social media. In fact, there was plenty of venting/drama to be found on Twitter shortly after the race. Hinchcliffe suffered a sprained thumb, and will need to get approval before getting back in the car. Regardless of the blame, it was just an unfortunate situation for everyone. Well, everyone except Dallara.
There weren’t many drivers that actually had a good day on Sunday. Graham Rahal spun Justin Wilson and was given a penalty. Rahal himself was turned later in the race. Simon Pagenaud was running in 2nd place when he was spun by Power, who was surprisingly not given a penalty. After the race, Power said that he was surprised that he wasn’t given a penalty, and that he felt really bad. Pagenaud was visibly (and understandably) upset after the race, despite rebounding for a top five finish.
Sebastien Bourdais put his car into the tire barrier multiple times, and received two separate pit road penalties. He was battling for the lead on cold tires during his first incident. Ganassi saw two of its cars have engine issues, with Charlie Kimball and Ryan Briscoe. Kimball was running 6th at the time his engine let go. It was the second straight race that Jack Hawksworth was collected in an accident after having a very strong day.
So it took two whole races for Ed Carpenter’s big decision to pay off. This shouldn’t come as a total shock to anyone, because Conway really is that good. Remember, he won a race last year in the other Dale Coyne Racing car. With so many road and street circuits on the schedule, and double points for the big oval races (for Ed), things are looking good for Ed Carpenter Racing. Conway is currently second in the championship standings.
The next race on the Verizon IndyCar schedule is the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on April 27. The telecast will begin at 2:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network. This is the final race before teams begin the Month of May at Indianapolis.