- Associated Press - Saturday, May 14, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Mike Conway would just like to forget last May.

Now he may finally have a chance.

Fifty weeks after leaving Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a helicopter, Conway climbed back into a race car, turning his first laps at the track since that scary scene and perhaps, finally, closing the book on one of the most frightening crashes in Indianapolis 500 history.

“I really don’t like to talk about it,” Conway said. “To be honest with you, this is just another track. I had a bad experience in the race last year, and I’ve gotten past all that. I’ve been kind of mentally prepared for it, visualizing the laps and that kind of thing.”

It hasn’t been easy to move on for the 27-year-old English driver.

He missed the final 11 races last season and needed nearly eight months to fully recover from a compression fracture in his back and a left leg that was nearly shattered in the wreck. His contract at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing expired, too, forcing Conway to find a new team.

And throughout the eight months of rehabilitation, Conway still had to contend with the constant reminders about what had happened.

Indy fans will never forget the indelible images.

Ryan Hunter-Reay ran out of gas between turns three and four, just in front of Conway, who was trying to chase down race leader Dario Franchitti on the final lap. When Hunter-Reay and Conway collided, the No. 24 car went hurtling through the air. As it flipped, the underside of Conway’s car smashed into the catch fence, rebounded off and nearly landed on Hunter-Reay’s head as debris scattered across the track.

Conway survived, but there was really no escaping the crash.

“I’ve had it shown to me so many times, you didn’t really have a choice,” he said. “I don’t like watching it.”

But in racing, there is no time to whine.

Talk to any driver in Gasoline Alley and everyone can recount some “big hit” they have experienced and the courage it took to continue driving.

“I had a big wreck at Michigan in ‘07 and then again (in the next race at Kentucky), and those situations test your resolve, your mettle, your determination,” said Franchitti, a two-time Indy winner and three-time IndyCar points champ. “You either get back in the car or you go home.”

Conway was not about to give up a career he was so passionate about, so he rededicated himself to building a leaner, stronger body in hopes of making it back for the season-finale at Homestead, Fla.

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