Ever had one of those days when you walked into a final exam only to find that it had started an hour earlier and was almost over?
And had the whole class turn and look at you as the door opened?
Dreyer and Reinbold Racing sophomore Mike Conway had that red-faced, pit-of-the-stomach feeling Friday when he arrived well late to the mandatory pre-Indy 500 driver's meeting.
But better late than not at all.
To his credit, Conway didn't blame the traffic, which was prodigious and still building for the Friday Carb Day morning session. He was filled in on the fine points starting etiquette by Professors Brian Barnhart and Al Unser Jr (see photo).
Those admonitions were still ringing in Conway's ears when the door opened. Patience is not just a virtue at the Indy 500, it's mandatory equipment. Conway started 24th and finished 18th in his rookie outing, and says the lessons learned in the 200 laps will go a long way for the second time around. He will start on the outside of the fifth row in the 15th slot Sunday which is either closer to the front or in the middle of a very long accordion, depending on your perspective.
"Obviously, like last year, it's a long race - you've got plenty of time - you just need to make to make your decisions," Conway said Friday morning. "And at the end of the day make sure you're there for the last 50 miles and make sure you're in a good position."
For drivers and crew alike, Carb Day represents a welcome relief to stop answering the same questions for the thousandth time, pull on the gloves and helmet, and get back in the car. Conway said there is separation anxiety for both driver and machine.
"Yeah, it's great. It feels like it's been a long time and it was only Sunday," Conway said. "We've kept busy and we're looking forward to getting out there today."
Carb Day practice starts at 11:00 AM and represents the last time for drivers to get on track before Sunday's race.
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