Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quick Post Race Update

A quick update on the craziness that was today's race in St. Petersburg. We knew all weekend that the weather would be a bit sketchy for the race, but we had no idea it would be that bad! There was a huge thunderstorm cell hanging out in the Gulf just of St. Pete and it was headed on shore. With all the guess work on weather calls, who knew when it would hit the race track area! Still, we had to prepare for both wet and dry and then see how it shook out. As we rolled out to start the race, the skies were dark and it was starting to sprinkle. But the rain wasn't hard enough to make us stop for wets, or even slow our speeds. I had a good solid start and after avoiding a spearing Philip Major, I was fourth after the first corner (up from my 7th starting spot). Then after a full course caution to clean up a couple of crashes, it was raining harder. The track was pretty slippery and Sebastien Saavedra ahead of me was tip- toeing around. His super slow pace caught me by surprise and we made light contact in Turn 4. There wasn't damage to either of our cars, and we both continued although we (and my teammate) were delayed and I slid down the order to 10th. Then, the rain was heavy enough that the series red flagged it and allowed everyone to change to wet tires. We struggled a bit with the set up on wets, but I really focused on keeping off the walls and the car in one piece. It was a smart strategy as I passed a couple of cars up to 8th and then picked off 2 more as they slid wide and spun. After a yellow for Saavedra in the wall (one more spot), I had one last chance to move up. I got held up behind a backmarker and couldn't make in roads into the front four. However as we finished our 60 minute race, I moved up one more spot to 4th place!! Summerton had spun into the wall just before the last corner on the last lap. After our checkered flag, the true deluge started and they had to evacuate the stands because of rain, lightning and wind!!!

I promise to get a full report of the weekend from media interviews to hospital visits and the on-track activities (Pace Car Team included!) soon. Like hopefully tomorrow while I watch the postponed Indy Car race!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Wait is Over

I’m on the plane headed down to St. Petersburg, Florida because the wait is over. The 2010 season is getting ready to start! Not the unofficial start with the safety meeting, or even with testing, both official and private; but the first race of the year. I grant you that it is only the first of the season and the champion won’t be crowned on Sunday afternoon. But, when the green flag drops, the nonsense stops. And hopefully, when the checkered flag flies, I will be heading into Victory Lane!

And I do feel particularly positive about the start of this season. Coming to St. Pete last year, I had done a couple of days testing with the team, had no idea how Indy Lights race weekends worked, wasn’t sure what to expect or how I’d do. This year, I know and am friendly with all the people running the races, I have a full and great sponsorship partnership put together, I am running with a Championship caliber (technically double Championship caliber) team and am more relaxed and confident than at the start of any season in the past. I really like the character of the track at St. Pete. I know that when we unload on Thursday, we will already be miles (so to speak) ahead of where I was last year. And that is before I turn my first lap.

This winter has seemed especially long. Not because I have been bored, in fact it has been the opposite. Since my last blog nearly a month ago (shock, horror, I know!), I have tested in Alabama, Texas, and Florida; moved (and drove through a snowstorm in doing so) to Indianapolis; was in 12 states in less than 7 days (these links are to photos of the state signs on the road trip); went to two ADA Expos (Portland and Salt Lake City); went to my first TCOYD of the year in Kalispell, Montana (first trip to MT and loved it!); and even got some time to train with Jim Leo at PitFit in Indy. Some of the smaller accomplishments of the last month include furnishing my new bedroom (I do love IKEA) and even attempting to decorate with drapes, photos and lamps. I have cooked a few meals and was even called ‘quite domesticated’ by my engineer.

But now, all that matters is this weekend’s race and winning. The wait is over. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights Championship is here. Let’s go racing!