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article imageINDYCAR: Conway surprised to find himself in 'Victory Circle'

By John Duarte     Apr 14, 2014 in Sports
Long Beach - Traffic gridlock is nothing new to southern California, but a multi-car pile-up on Sunday afternoon played a big part in determining the winner of the Verizon IndyCar Series race on the streets of Long Beach.
The apparent outcome of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach changed in a blink of an eye when an incident at the front of the field triggered a massive wreck which saw car-after-car piling into each other on Lap 56 of the scheduled 80-lap race. The incident started when Ryan Hunter-Reay ran into the back of Josef Newgarden's car on a tight portion of the racetrack.
Hunter-Reay defended his actions. He said he noticed the car ahead of him spin its wheels and decided to make a move. He admitted he was disappointed with the outcome of his actions on the track, but wasn't apologetic.
“I went for it because I want to win the race,” Hunter-Reay said. “A lot of people say it's my fault. I made the decision at that split second when he had some wheel spin to go for it. That's the type of driver I am. I go for it.”
Drivers from the seven cars involved all had differing views of the incident, but few seemed as irate as James Hinchcliffe, who was critical of teammate Hunter-Reay.
“At the end of the day, patience is a virtue and someone wasn't very virtuous today,” Hinchcliffe said. “It was a rookie move.”
For those who managed to evade the incident, including reigning series champion Scott Dixon, it started to look like a high-speed Sunday drive to the finish. That all changed two laps from the finish for Dixon, who had to come in to the pits when calculations showed he would not have enough fuel to complete the race.
Enter Mike Conway. When Ed Carpenter, who prefers to drive on oval tracks, decided he wasn't going to drive on street courses and road circuits, he turned to Conway, who doesn't drivel on ovals. Conway started the 40th running of the Long Beach race 17th on the grid.
Using every tool in his arsenal, including his push-to-pass button, to hold off Will Power, the winner of the first IndyCar race of the 2014 season two weeks ago as well as the final two races in 2013.
“I can't believe I'm actually (in Victory Circle),” said an elated Conway. “Somehow, I got it done.”
Conway was as surprised as anyone when Dixon peeled off into pit lane while leading the race and with the checkered flag nearly in sight. Driving out front, Conway said he just had to remain in control of his emotions and bring the car home for his second career victory at the southern California race.
“I wasn't sure Scott (Dixon) was going to pull in there. Second would have been good, but this is awesome,” he said. “I pushed because I knew Will (Power) was going to be close and he was good off the last corner. I knew I had to keep it clean there.”
As for Dixon, he simply shrugged his late pit stop off.
“The last thing I wanted to do was run out of gas in front of the whole field and cause a big accident,” he said.
Power finished second in the race and series rookie Carlos Munoz was third.
The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is next on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. The race will be held at Barber Motorsports Park, in Birmingham, on April 27, 2014.
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