Mike, congratulations and tell us about the race today.
MIKE CONWAY: Thank you. Yeah, I was really ‑‑ started back in 17th, and we really had to fight for every position. The guys made a good call on strategy. We were able to bump past some people, and on race restarts we gained some positions as well. So great job by all the team. I know on that last restart I had to get by Will, because I knew he had one push to pass left, and I knew that Munoz behind me had four, and Munoz was very good all day, so it was hard ‑‑ it was going to be hard to keep him behind. So managed to get by Will and then was kind of all over the back of Justin and Scott and they were battling it out as well. And they touched going into Turn 8, and it got close to me and Scott. Then Scott was kind of all over them, but when the safety car came out again, I thought maybe I’ll have a chance to get by him here, but I knew at the same time he may not have enough fuel to get to the end. So I wasn’t sure, because I could see he wasn’t saving much fuel, and the guys are saying he’s saving fuel because he can’t make it. I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know. Maybe he saved enough.’
I was like, you know, this is it now. We can make this two times winning at Long Beach. Yeah, awesome. I can’t believe it really. It’s been a really tough day to be here. After, yeah, just a fantastic job by the team, and thanks to Long Beach again for putting on such a good show.
Q : A unique situation for you this year. You’re only racing the road and street courses while your team owner Ed Carpenter races the ovals. How gratifying is it for you personally and also for the team to see the results of that strategy pay off in the second race of the season?
MIKE CONWAY: I’ve got to say a big thanks to Ed for making it happen, and all the guys at Fuzzy’s Racing to put me in this position. Yeah, I think it’s a great combination. I think everyone’s quite excited about it. It’s great to repay them this soon with a win. I think Ed’s going to be awesome on the ovals, and he’s really looking forward to the Texas test next week and Indy in May. So, yeah, it’s great to be part of it.
Q. There are a lot of great drivers that haven’t won this race. You’ve won it twice. The satisfaction of being able to be a two‑time Long Beach Grand Prix winner?
MIKE CONWAY: It still hasn’t sunk in yet. I mean, as I went over the land, I got that same feeling, that feeling in my stomach and not being able to get any words out because it kind of just meant so much. Probably the same as the first time. You know, it’s always tough the first time as well. So, yeah, it’s just a really special place. It’s so hard to win around here, and to do it twice, I’ve not done that on many tracks, so to do it here is really cool.
Q. It’s hard enough for drivers to get a full‑time ride. I was wondering what did you think of your chances were of getting a road course only ride when the season started? What do you have to say to people who were skeptical?
MIKE CONWAY: Slim, definitely slim. Yeah, I wasn’t sure obviously at the end of 2012 too, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it back. But managed to pick up some rides last year and kind of showed that I’ve still got a lot of speed, and we won in Detroit as well. I still wasn’t sure at the end of last year what was going to happen. Yeah, to be able to pick this up is a dream come true. It couldn’t have worked out any better between me and Ed. So, yeah, I’m very thankful for the position I’m in and trying to make the most of it.
Q. A little while ago Will was saying you don’t get many gifts in racing, and he was talking about the big pileup that allowed you guys to do what you did. How do you look at that?
MIKE CONWAY: I didn’t really see what happened. So you know, I saw the last part of it as I was approaching the corner, and I thought someone was going to go around there, and I heard over the radio call there was an incident in the corner, be very careful and stay right. I’m thankful for that call because they really kept me out of trouble through there. It was tight just to get through with the speed we have. I really had to dive around people. Yeah, I mean, luckily obviously that that happened and advanced us a good four positions. I think we were still within the hunt to get a good result today. But, yeah, obviously, unlucky for those guys and made it fortunate for us. But it’s always like that on street courses. It gets really close, but I don’t know what really happened. I’ll have to look at that.
Q. Great finish. You didn’t start very well. Describe the start and how that worked snout also heard there was damage to the front wing, and did that affect you at all during the race?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, the start wasn’t great. The revs really dropped, and I thought I was maybe going to stall and I had to quickly pull the clutch again and go again and obviously two cars got around me at that point. Managed to get by Ryan and pick that position back up. But all the way through the race it was hard to know where we were going to end up. There were lots of cars around you, and when you got within a second of a car, you’d lose half a second in pace, and it was really hard to make your way by. But we did manage to pick some people off as the race was going on and made some good passes. But, yeah, it was a real unknown until that last kind of restart where we were going to be. So had to fight all day. Yeah, kind of had the car to do it, so big thanks to the guys for that.
Q. During the race while you were battling, did you notice a major difference between the power characteristics of the Honda and Chevy? Because in qualifying it looked very dominant for Honda. I think they had nine of the top 12 qualifying positions, but we ended up with a Chevy 1, 2 at least. Did you notice any difference coming out of the final hairpin?
MIKE CONWAY: I don’t know. It was really how you get around the hair‑pin. It was hard to tell sometimes on how you get off. But I mean I was behind Munoz for a good few laps. It felt similar to be honest. I mean, he was on the blacks to that point and his car was really turning well through that last corner, so he could get off well just with traction. So it was really close to be honest. And we did trim out a little bit for the race so I think we had better speed than some people down the strait. But I forgot to answer your question about the front wing. That did feel like it slowed us down a little bit because it was flapping around. That top element definitely some drag there. But I think we did have some good top end speed because of the downforce level we had, but it felt close.
Q. You mentioned being told over the radio about the accident. Are you one of the few drivers that has a spotter?
MIKE CONWAY: Well, just lucky they saw it. I mean, they were there at the time. I thought he said he was going to be down in turn one, but he must have seen it on the big screen or from where he was standing in one. Normally he doesn’t have to say too much, but obviously if there are any incidents anywhere and he’s there at that point he’ll let me know, otherwise the team will let me know on the TV. But, yeah, kind of lucky he was down there.
Q. The spotters were on Turn 1, and I think there were only six or seven spotters because it’s not required on a road course?
MIKE CONWAY: He’s out there making sure we’re making the most of every corner. He watches what all the other cars are doing. Yeah, he’s obviously in the race. He can’t do so much of that, but he can also definitely help me if there are any incidents, and that definitely helped today.
Q. Regarding the accident, it seemed like it went on for quite some time. I think Takuma Sato came into it five or six seconds afterwards. Were the course marshals signaling adequately that there was a blockage of the track around the corner which I assume you couldn’t see coming through?
MIKE CONWAY: Well, as I said, when I got there it just happened. So, yeah, I mean, I didn’t see any yellows at that point. I don’t recall. But it’s hard to tell because I was so focused on looking for what was around the corner. You know, you kind of miss sometimes what’s on the entry with the marshals. But, yeah, there were a lot of cars behind me at that point, and some made it through, some didn’t. I suppose it was a bit of luck, I suppose. Yeah, it was definitely not the yellows, but if you didn’t know where the cars were, it was still tricky. You had to slow down a lot to miss it all. There was really one line, and it took a long time to clear up. There were a lot of cars involved.
Q. This is a smaller team in the series, but yet it really seems like they can take on the power teams and whip them at their own game. What is it about Ed Carpenter racing that they seem to do so well particularly at certain tracks in?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, I think we’ve got a really good group of people. Some great engineers on board and everyone’s working really hard and they’re always pushing between St. Pete and this weekend, they were nonstop in the shop trying to develop some parts and make things better. You know, I think if you’ve got that drive and that hunger within the team you can definitely achieve anything. It does make it harder, a one‑car team, but I think with all the help and all the people we have on the team, we can definitely make some waves.
Q. What do you think about the hairpin? The tightest one in all of IndyCar racing.
MIKE CONWAY: I mean, it’s Long Beach, it’s been here since the start, I presume. It does make it tricky. Obviously the restarts, first lap of the race it does get quite choked up in there. But I think everyone’s smart enough to stay out of trouble, but I’m not sure. Obviously I saw Graham was spun down around there. I mean, it’s easy enough to hit someone’s back side going in there because if you don’t choke up a little bit and you’re not aware of it can catch you up. But I don’t know. It’s just part of the course, I suppose.
Q. You mentioned that you started 17th, but you didn’t qualify well. Someone asked Will Power how come he was so far down in the field, and he said well, the car was great, he just didn’t hit it during qualification. How come you were like 17th, because after all, you’re past champion here?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, it’s very close, the series. As years go on it gets closer and closer. If you’re behind a little bit it can really show up in qualifying. When everyone’s on that ultimate limit putting in really quick times. We felt like we needed a couple more laps to get the tires in. It was taking a little bit longer, and before we knew it, the session was finished. Yeah, that’s all it takes. If you don’t quite get it together, you’ll just miss that advance. Any slight mistake on a lap, and you really risk not making it through. It was a shame. Obviously, we didn’t want that to happen around here. We thought we had a good car for top eight, maybe more. Yeah, obviously the race we knew made it difficult for us, but we had some good speed and got into the run.
Q. You avoided the carnage in Turn 4. You finished very strong. What was the biggest challenge you faced in the final laps of the race?
MIKE CONWAY: Having Will behind me and Scott in front, two wily cats. I knew I had my work cut out. I just couldn’t make any mistakes. I had to really push them all the way. Will was very good through the last sector, so I had to be strong through there, and make sure I went through the last hair‑pin well. I knew he didn’t have many overtakes left, if any, at that point. I didn’t have any either. So I really just had to get as good as I could through that sector and clean down the straight. But Scott was very good off that last corner, and it was hard to get close to him. I could get close to him on the infield, but he was pretty good out there.
Yeah, it was tricky. I didn’t know whether he had the fuel to finish or not. The guys were telling me he was saving fuel and they weren’t sure that he could make it, but at the same time, you don’t want to rely on that. I don’t know. I was kind of trying to make things happen and maybe get by him. But when I saw pull in I was like, okay, the guys are right, and just have to bring it home.
Q : Before we let you go. In two weeks you’ll be continuing your deal with Ed Carpenter Racing at Barber Motorsports Park. Give us a preview of what we can expect at that track?
MIKE CONWAY: I like Barber a lot. It’s a cool track, very fast flowing. The test was okay for us there. We’ve made some progress since then. So hopefully we’ll come back stronger. Obviously, we have two weeks in between and we’re going to keep pushing and make sure the car is quick for me to ride there. But always a good race. Qualifying is really cool around there. It is harder to pass, however, it’s still possible. Yeah, hopefully, we’ll have a good showing.
Q. How much fuel did you have left?
MIKE CONWAY: Loads, loads. I don’t actually know the numbers, but maybe we can let you know after.