BELLE ISLE, MICHIGAN- Quick, who had Mike Conway, James Jakes and E.J. Viso as the top performers of the weekend around the 2.36-mile Belle Isle, Michigan street course?
If you claim you did, you’re lying.
Jakes finished 23rd in his lone race in Belle Isle, Viso has finishes of 24th and 18th here and Conway finished ninth in the race last year.
Most people would look at big hitters Will Power, 2013 Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti or defending race winner Scott Dixon as favorites this weekend. But, there’s a new trio stealing the show as Conway, Jakes and Viso are having career weekends.
Conway earned his first career Izod IndyCar Series pole Saturday morning with a weekend best lap of 1:18.0977 in the No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Dale Coyne Racing Honda. The Verizon P1 Pole Award was also the first pole for Dale Coyne Racing as they will start first in Sunday’s second duel.
Conway will also start on the outside of the front row in Saturday’s first Duel as he qualified third in Friday’s session. With Franchitti earning the pole but serving a 10-spot grid penalty Conway moved up to the second on the starting grid and earned his first career front row start.
After not having a ride four days ago and only racing once this season it’s remarkable Conway is starting second and first respectively at Belle Isle this weekend.
He’s joined by Jakes on the front row for Sunday’s race as the Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing driver earned his best start of his career in Saturday morning’s qualifying session. Jakes has his parents in town this weekend and he’s performing nicely for them as he will start third in today’s 70 Lap race.
With Conway having starts of 1st and 2nd this weekend Jakes nearly overshadowed him by starting 2nd and 3rd.
Jakes said, “I’m going to try and find out where Mike (Conway) is staying this weekend and show up to his room and try and steal it and his luck.”
They’re not the only two though having career weekends. Viso earned a front row start in Friday’s session but again with Franchitti’s grid penalty he will start on the pole for the first time in his IndyCar career. He backed that up Saturday morning with a fifth place qualifying run which gives him a 1st and 5th place starting position in both races this weekend.
The two top five starting spots also gives Viso and IndyCar high of four consecutive top five starts as he started second in Sao Paulo and fourth at Indy last weekend.
It’s looking like one of these three could earn their first career IndyCar victory this weekend.
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