The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a twisting winding asphalt serpent that few of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ best drivers have been able to tame. In his three dances with the Lexington, Ohio facility’s 2.4-mile, 15-turn track, Mike Conway is among the elite drivers who are still trying to figure things out.
Conway, who makes his home in Sevenoakes, England, was at Mid-Ohio Wednesday and Thursday to test his Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet Dallara Firestone machine. The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will take place Aug. 1-3, and Conway would like to carry over his winning ways from the recent race in Toronto. The Toronto win was his second on a temporary street course this season. He also won earlier this year in Long Beach.
Like a professional golfer recalling his round, Conway recalls his races at Mid-Ohio.
“The first year (2009), I crashed. I had contact with someone just 20 laps in, and then toward the end of the race the front (suspension) upright sorta gave way. To be honest, I can’t remember where I finished in ‘11 or ‘12. I know it hasn’t been very well,” he said with a slight chuckle.
This season, Conway has been tabbed by team owner and fellow driver Ed Carpenter to drive the team’s green, gold and white car in the series’ 12 non-oval races this season for Ed Carpenter Racing, while Carpenter handles the driving duties on the ovals.
He finished 20th driving for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in 2009, was 26th for Andretti Autosport in 2011 and finished 21st for A.J. Foyt’s ABC Supply Co. team two years ago. Now with his fourth team in his fourth Mid-Ohio race, Conway is hoping to take what he’s learned from those past experiences, add some of his successes on the temporary street courses of Toronto and Long Beach, and try and figure out a way to carry that winning chemistry over to Mid-Ohio.
“(The street circuits) all relate in some ways. They don’t 100 percent transfer over to the road courses, because the tracks are a lot smoother and some of the corners are a lot higher,” Conway said. “But yeah, I’ve been quick here before in test sessions, so I know what it takes to be quick around here. The results haven’t been good. We have struggled a little bit on the road courses this year — Barber Motorsports Park, Indianapolis’ road course —where we haven’t quite had the car dialed in, so that’s why we’re testing here to try and make some headway on the race setup.”
Conway, who turns 31 on Aug. 19, said Mid-Ohio reminds him of the Oulton Park circuit he’d raced on in England. He would like to give himself an early birthday present with a Mid-Ohio win.
A year ago, American driver Charlie Kimball won the race. Driving for the Target Chip Ganassi team, Kimball finished 5.5 seconds ahead of Frenchman Simon Pagenaud. Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon is a four-time winner at Mid-Ohio, but 14 races into the season the Ganassi team has yet to claim a win.
“Expect to see some close racing,” Conway said. “You get people from all over the Midwest who show up and really seem to have a great time camping out at the track and enjoying barbecues. It’s a pretty good time for everybody. Every year I’ve been here, there’s always been a British flag waving in Turn 2. It’s a really fun atmosphere, pretty cool. I think fans would really enjoy it.”
Fans can visit midohio.com for race weekend and ticket information.