Mike Conway has made a career in the IZOD IndyCar Series out of being daring. A checkers-or-wreckers kind of driver, he has mixed flashes of brilliance with a legion of destroyed Dallara chassis. Regardless, his lack of fear makes him one of the most entertaining racers on the circuit.
His latest daring maneuver, however, will see him missing the majority of the season.
On the white flag lap of the Indianapolis 500, Conway slid into the car of Ryan Hunter-Reay, launching him into the turn three catchfence. His car disintegrated as he slid down the short chute, his once familiar No. 24 Dallara-Honda now nothing more than a tub and thousands of shards of carbon fiber.
Conway suffered a broken bone and soft tissue injury in his lower left leg, as well as a compression fracture of one of his thoracic vertebrae. The former are less serious injuries, but the latter will require him to wear a back brace for three months.
Any racing hopes he might have had over the next eight races or so are shot.
Were Conway to be ready immediately on September 1, three months after the wreck at Indy, he would only be able to compete at Kentucky, Motegi, and Homestead. It is altogether possible that like Vitor Meira last year, he may miss the rest of the season.
This leaves Dreyer & Reinbold scrambling for a replacement driver for Conway over the next eight races. Two drivers, Tomas Scheckter and Ana Beatriz, raced for DRR during the Indy 500 but are seeking other employment opportunities. They look to be the first choices.
But plenty of other worthy drivers are available. Former DRR racers that don't currently have a ride include Townsend Bell, Buddy Lazier, Darren Manning, Buddy Rice, and Roger Yasukawa. And among former race winners that don't currently have full-time rides, DRR can pick from Bruno Junqueira, Oriol Servia, Paul Tracy, and Graham Rahal, who has somehow been piecing together deals all year. Rahal especially makes an interesting fit because he has worked with Justin Wilson, DRR's lead driver, in the past; they were teammates in 2008 at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.