In a bit of breaking news, word is coming out from California Speedway that Indy Car driver Mike Conway has told his team A.J. Foyt Racing that he does not want to compete in the season finale this weekend on the 2 mile oval track because he is “not comfortable”. Now before you call Conway out as a wuss let us go over some facts that I think contributed to his decision today. First, Mike Conway is in no way shape or form in the battle for the championship at this point. So by backing out he personally does not lose much. Secondly, ovals have not been kind to him Back in 2010, Conway had a horriffic crash at the Indy 500 which put him out of commission for a good long while. He had to fight physically and mentally to make his come back. Then, only a year or so after his return he watches his fellow Brit driver Dan Wheldon die at the Las Vegas speedway oval track in a crash that was very similar to what Conway himself went through at Indy. Then, there is California Speedway…
It has been years since California Speedway has had a proper open wheel car race. This is for a few reasons. One is that the track is incredibly fast. I believe Gil De Ferran still holds the record for fastest lap in an American open wheel series at over 240 mph which was at California Speedway. Then, more importantly California Speedway is where legendary Canadian driver Greg Moore lost his life in a fatal crash. Moore’s incident on the oval is what prompted the gradual “slow down” of open wheel cars in American racing.
After reading all of that it does not seem so far fetched or “chicken” for Conway to want to step back from the finale does it? While Conway feels more comfortable not participating, you may be asking what A.J. Foyt Racing is left to do? Well the team “respects” Conway’s decision and they have brought in Wade Cunningham to fill the seat for this weekend’s race. At this point it is unsure if this could mean Conway will back out of Indy Car racing for good since it looks like ovals will be a significant part of Indy Car’s future for at least the next decade. Either way, I do not fault the man for taking his safety and life into consideration.
[Source: AP Sports]