DETROIT -- Mike Conway went from watching to winning IndyCar races in less than a week.
The English driver dominated the first of two races at the Detroit Grand Prix, finishing nearly 13 seconds ahead of defending series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay on Saturday to easily win the 70-lap race on the 2.36-mile Belle Isle street course.[+] EnlargeKevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesMike Conway poses with the Verizon Pole Award following qualifying for the IndyCar race in Detroit. Conway went on to win the first of two races at the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle.
Dale Coyne Racing picked Conway to drive one of its two cars this weekend -- after he didn't have a ride during the Indianapolis 500 -- and wasted no time offering him another opportunity.
"You want to go to Toronto now?" team owner Dale Coyne asked Conway after the race.
Yes, he does because the Streets of Toronto race in July suits his road-racing preference.
Conway backed out of last September's season finale at Fontana because he decided he's uncomfortable racing on ovals. He had serious leg and back injuries after a 2010 crash at Indianapolis and wrecked there again in 2012.
In his only other IndyCar race since then, he qualified fifth and finished 25th this year at Long Beach for Bobby Rahal. Conway's only other IndyCar win was at Long Beach in 2011.
The open-wheel series is running a second, full-length race in the same weekend for the first time Sunday when Conway will start up front for the first time in his career.
"The car has been great all weekend," he said.
Marco Andretti, who put his famous family atop the standings for the first time in more than a decade, finished 20th and made at least one other driver very angry.
Sebastian Saavedra hit a tire barrier on lap 33 after Andretti ran him into a wall.
"It's just frustrating to see that Marco keeps doing these dirty moves and as usual nothing is done to him," said Saavedra, who extended his middle fingers toward Andretti when he passed by on his next lap. "It's just a very frustrating day."
It was for AJ Allmendinger, too.
After it was announced that he's getting another shot to race stock cars, he failed to finish a lap after getting squeezed between Dixon and Wilson.
"It's just my fault," he said. "I feel bad."
Allmendinger, and the rest of the drivers who didn't win, will have a chance to bounce back in Sunday's race on the same track that held up much better than it did last year.
Dixon won last year's Detroit Grand Prix marred by pot holes and grooves that stopped the race for a little more than 2 hours and shortened the 90-lap race to 70.
To avoid embarrassment and create more opportunities to pass, Roger Penske's Michigan-based company and Chevrolet invested nearly $2 million to improve and reconfigure the track.
It looked like money well spent.
Drivers had opportunities to make more moves and Conway took advantage right away and pavement stayed in place.
Conway passed E.J. Viso, who started first, heading into Turn 1 on the opening lap to take his first lead since a race in Edmonton on July 24, 2011.
Hunter-Reay took turns with the lead as well, but couldn't prevent Conway from getting inside of him on lap 44.
Then, no one could catch him.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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