Mike Conway wins IndyCar Long Beach Grand Prix

The first half of the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach generally was a stately affair.

There were no major accidents, though Sebastien Bourdais slammed into the tire barriers twice, and Ryan Hunter-Reay maintained the lead with apparent ease.

Then the wheels came off, literally and figuratively.

Hunter-Reay sparked a multicar crash that knocked him and five others out, another crash ended Justin Wilson's day and Scott Dixon ran short of fuel while leading with only two laps left in the 80-lap race Sunday.

Mike Conway then inherited the lead and the British driver held on to win his second Long Beach Grand Prix. His first victory on the city's seaside streets came in 2011.

"I can't believe it," said Conway, who started 17th in the 23-car field. "I wasn't sure if Scott was going to pull in [for fuel]. You just have to push as hard as you can all the time."

Australian Will Power, who won the Verizon IndyCar Series' season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla., two weeks ago, finished second.

Rookie Carlos Munoz was third and Juan Pablo Montoya — making his first Long Beach start in 14 years after returning to IndyCar racing — finished fourth.

Conway, 30, is a part-time driver for the team owned by fellow IndyCar racer Ed Carpenter.

Conway formerly competed during the entire IndyCar season. But near the end of the 2012 season, while driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, Conway announced he was "not comfortable" racing anymore on high-speed ovals.

His decision came after Conway was in a spectacular crash in the 2010 Indianapolis 500. His car went airborne and into the grandstands catch fence, and Conway suffered a broken vertebra and multiple fractures to his left leg that required months of rehabilitation.

So Carpenter's team hired him this year to drive only on the series' twisty street and road courses, while Carpenter himself races on the ovals.

"It's great to repay them with a win this soon," Conway said. "I'm very thankful for the position I'm in."

Hunter-Reay won the Long Beach race in 2010 and the IndyCar title in 2012 for the Andretti Autosport team. He triggered Sunday's big wreck on lap 56 when he tried to pass Josef Newgarden, who had just exited the pits.

As they entered Turn 4, a right-hander on the 11-turn course, Hunter-Reay moved to the inside but clipped Newgarden, causing both to crash.

They all but blocked the narrow turn, causing others to slam into them, including Hunter-Reay teammate James Hinchcliffe, Tony Kanaan, defending Long Beach winner Takuma Sato and rookie Jack Hawksworth.

But Conway, Power and Dixon were among those snaking through the wreckage. "You don't get those gifts often in racing, so I'll take it," Power said.

Hunter-Reay's daring move quickly was criticized, even in his own camp, with his team co-owner Michael Andretti saying, "You need to be a little more patient."

Newgarden drives for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, and Fisher said on Twitter, "It was our race to win and we got robbed by immaturity. Period."

Hunter-Reay, 33, was less than apologetic after finishing 20th in the 23-car field.

"I'll look at it again but a racing driver, when he's in the moment and he sees a chance to go for it — I went for it because I want to win the race," he said.

The wreck "got others that didn't deserve to be involved, and that's what I feel really bad about," Hunter-Reay added.

After the race restarted on lap 65, Dixon led but Wilson pulled alongside trying to pass. They also collided and Wilson crashed. Dixon finished 12th and Wilson was 16th.


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