Long Beach, CA (Sports Network) - Mike Conway won Sunday's IZOD IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He finished 6.3203 seconds ahead of runner-up Ryan Briscoe. It was the first win of Conway's IndyCar career. Will Power, who started on the pole for the third time this season in three starts, made the initial move to beat Ryan Hunter-Reay to the first turn and built his lead over last year's Long Beach winner to nearly one second by Lap 7.
But Hunter-Reay was running with the slower "black" Firestone tires while Power was on the faster "reds" which could mean an advantage for Hunter-Reay later in the race. Ryan Briscoe, was the only other driver in the top-12 using this strategy. Through 20 laps, the top-10 stayed just as they had started with Power, Hunter-Reay, Conway, Oriol Servia and Justin Wilson leading the way. The top- three, though, owned a six-second lead on fourth-place Servia.
The first "bobble" of the day was a spin by Wilson, with some help from behind by Helio Castroneves. Two cars, Alex Tagliani and Briscoe ducked into the pits expecting a caution flag, but none appeared. They got lucky, however, when a second spin, by Simona De Silvestro, brought out the first caution of the day on lap 25 and Tagliani and Briscoe inherited the lead as the remainder of the field pitted.
Briscoe, on "reds," blasted by Tagliani on the restart at Lap 32 and Hunter- Reay got past Power for third place in Turn 1. Hunter-Reay spent a lap in third and then slide past Tagliani for second, but in the meantime Briscoe built a one and a half second lead. Power followed Hunter-Reay past Tagliani on the following lap as the action began to heat up.
Briscoe's lead was two seconds on Hunter-Reay and three second on Power at Lap 43 and expanding. At Lap 52 Briscoe had opened up a four-second lead. Briscoe pitted on Lap 57, yielding the lead to Hunter-Reay. An 8.3-second stop left Briscoe in position to re-assume the top spot when the rest of the field came in for their final stop. Hunter-Reay came in on Lap 59 and Power one lap later.
Briscoe again built a three-second lead, but a full-course caution caused by an Wilson crash eliminated the gap. Briscoe won the race to the first turn, but Castroneves and Power collided and ended their chances to win the race. They finally restarted the race with 15 laps remaining and Briscoe led Hunter- Reay and Dario Franchitti into the first turn. Hunter-Reay held his position for half a lap and then suddenly slowed. Conway, in fourth, jumped past both Franchitti and Hunter-Reay for second.
Then with 14 laps remaining Conway slipped inside Briscoe for the lead. "I had nothing for him," said Briscoe. "He came out of turn five and flew right by me." Conway was the fastest car on the track and built a 2.5-second lead with a dozen laps remaining and over four seconds with 10 to go.
From there it was a smooth ride to the checkered flag and the winner's circle for the third-year driver. Franchitti, rookie James Hinchcliffe and Tagliani completed the top-five. "I am so happy," said owner Michael Andretti. "He impressed me the first time we put him in a race car. We knew he was going to win races,"
"Awesome," said Conway. "The car was great and I have to thank the team for this result. I thought my day might be done when I overshot my pit, but everything worked out." With his third-place finish, Franchitti takes a seven-point lead over Power as the series heads to Brazil on May 1st for the fourth race of the IndyCar season.
You can head back over to the Grand Prix's official website for more information on all of the events of the weekend.