Friday, August 7, 2009

Getting to rock and roll at Mid-Ohio

After my tough race last weekend in Kentucky, I am really looking forward to getting back onto a permanent road course. The last time I raced on a non-temporary road course it was the 4th of July and I had a solid 4th place result. Coming off a poor showing last weekend at the Kentucky Speedway, the team and I could use another top-5. Last weekend, we sat around waiting for the track to stop leaking water and then for it to dry up again after it rained on Saturday afternoon. Then we had a quick practice on a very dirty track and straight into the race. I started 11th because of entrant points. I moved high into Turn 3 on lap 1 to try to get past my teammate. As we got to the apex, Gustavo Yacaman ahead of me on the high side as well spun. When I lifted and tried to turn more to avoid him, the back of my car came around and I slid up into the wall. My day was done. It was very frustrating after standing around for a day and a half. But moving forward I am excited about Mid-Ohio.

I raced here in 2003 in the US Formula Ford 2000 championship and finished 2nd to my teammate. Having some track experience will help me get up to speed quickly and tune the car for what the track needs. Mid-Ohio is one of the stalwarts of American race tracks. It presents a lot of different challenges throughout the lap. There is a lot of elevation changes and a variety of technical corners. Here is a lap rundown:

The pit straight is pretty short and leads up to a very interesting sight picture. Turn 1 is a fast left hander with the turn in point just at a bridge over the top of the track. With the concrete bridge abutments, you can't see the exit as you approach the entry of the corner. Then it is the second longest straight on the track uphill up to the 'keyhole.' The keyhole is a long right handed corner that drops away significantly on the exit. The exit is critical though as it leads to the longest straight on the track. It is downhill most of the way with an easy flat bend in the middle. Then it is into a section of linked corners that lead almost the whole way back to the pit straight. Turn 4 is a right hander that has some camber at the apex and exits up the hill directly into turn 5. Turn 5 is a slow 180-degree left hander over the crest of the hill. The exit is difficult because it falls away downhill pretty aggressively and so traction is a problem Turn 6 is a 90-degree right hander that leads directly through a flat out kink into the entrance of 'Thunder Valley.' The entrance to Thunder Valley is a 3rd gear right hander with a big crest at the apex. Once again you can't see the exit of the corner when you commit to power. After the crest, the track falls away and the wall close in to narrow the sight picture. You go down into a valley and then climb back up before a fast left hander to exit 'Thunder Valley.' As you come out of the fast left hander, you drop over a crest into the 'Carousel'. The Carousel is a long right hander that leads you into a quick left kink back onto the pit straight. It is a busy, technical and very fun lap. I can't wait to drive it tomorrow!
(Photo from 2003 USFF2000 at Mid-Ohio- Thanks RacePix!)

Firestone Indy Lights Mid-Ohio Schedule:
Practice: 8:30-9:15
Qualifying: 11:30-12:15

Race:10:15 (40 Laps)

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