IndyCar driver Mike Conway backs out of Fontana race because of oval

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SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Mike Conway said Thursday he will not compete in the IndyCar season finale at Auto Club Speedway because he’s uncomfortable racing on ovals.

Conway suffered serious leg and back injuries in a 2010 crash at Indianapolis, and wrecked there again in this year’s race. AJ Foyt Racing said he’ll be replaced by Wade Cunningham in Saturday night’s race.

“I’m truly sorry for putting the team and our sponsors in a difficult position, but this is the hardest decision I have ever made in my racing career,” Conway said in a statement. “I’ve come to realize I’m not comfortable on the ovals and no longer wish to compete on them. I want to stress that I am not finished racing and to this end, I would love to continue with Foyt Racing, but that’s something we need to discuss in the future.”

The British driver has run 22 oval races in IndyCar. His best finish was an eighth at Iowa in 2009.

Conway was 20th in points with three top 10 finishes in 14 races this year. He was a season-best third at Toronto, and was second in qualifying two weeks ago at Baltimore.

Team director Larry Foyt said the organization admired Conway’s decision to come forward with his concerns.

“Mike’s been a great asset to our team, and I’m disappointed that we can’t finish out the season together,” Larry Foyt said. “However, it took a lot of courage for Mike to come forward and we respect him highly for that and we certainly want to honor his decision.”

Cunningham had planned to attend Saturday night’s finale as a spectator. He ran the Indianapolis 500 this year for Foyt in a second entry that finished 31st with an electrical problem. It’s the only race Cunningham ran this season.

He has made five previous IndyCar starts, all on ovals, and including last year’s finale at Las Vegas.

Of Cunningham’s eight Indy Lights victories, six were on ovals, and he won the 2005 race at Fontana in his championship season.

“Fortunately, Wade was available to drive for us, and we’re looking forward to working with him again,” Foyt said.


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