Sunday, April 1, 2012

Live from Trackside – Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Sunday, April 1:
4:13 p.m.
That was a little disappointing. We had a decent car there for a while. The tires definitely made a big difference to the lap times and how the car handled. It’s kind of a shame. We had a small problem with the car, which put us out of the race. We learned a lot… learned about how to go racing with these cars and engines. We’ll be in good shape come Long Beach.

9:53 a.m.
Guess what today is?! Race day!

Good morning from Barber Motorsports Park. Looks like it’ll be a beautiful day. Just finished up warm-up and heading into a team meeting soon.

I thought it was a good warm-up. We made some changes even during the session. I think we’re making the car better… still have a little room to go for the race. The thing around here is that it’s so hard to pass. We’ll have to stay patient for the whole 90 laps. We’ll see how it works out today. I have a lot of confidence in the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew in the pits, so we’ll use that to our advantage as much as possible today.

Morning warm-up... it'll be a warm, beautiful race day!

Saturday, March 31:
11:10 a.m.
It wasn’t the best qualifying session but the best we could do under these circumstances. We changed the car overnight, hoping to run it in practice this morning, but with the wet track it wasn’t ideal. We missed it a couple of places but we still have a lot to go find. We’ve got a good race car—pretty consistent—so it should be good for 90 laps tomorrow. We’ll take really good care of the tires, go find some things in the car and get some grip out of it.

I’ll grab some lunch, then I’ve got a busy afternoon…. Meeting some guests from JDRF, a Novo Nordisk FlexPen Tunnel appearance at 1:15, then the IndyCar autograph session at 2:15. Hope to see you guys there at the INDYCAR Fan Village.

Hanging out with JDRF guests
8:50 a.m.
Well, because of the fog we were only able to take one lap this morning, just enough to make sure the car works before qualifying. The track’s dried out, the fog is clearing and we should have a beautiful day, so hopefully it’ll be a good qualifying session. We made some changes overnight, but with little practice time, it’s always a bit unknown. We’re still figuring the car out—everyone is. We definitely worked toward where we want to be overnight. We can’t learn much running on rain tires for one installation lap, so we’ll just see how it goes during qualifying.

Tune into qualifying on NBC Sports Network at 4 p.m. ET, or follow along live here at 9:40 a.m. (Central). Make sure you’re following @racewithinsulin to get live tweets during qualifying from my new Pit Lane Reporter! 
Yep, it's a little foggy...

Friday, March 30:
4:40 p.m.
It was puddling up, so we were hydroplaning everywhere. The car is actually a lot of fun to drive out in the wet. There’s a good amount of downforce, which you can see by the amount of rain we were sucking in the air down in the straights. It takes a while to figure out the brakes. We figured out the brakes in the dry; now we just have to figure out the brakes in the wet. We still have a little bit of work to do. I love racing in the rain!

Debriefing with my engineers, then heading back for the evening. If you're here at Barber, be sure to come out to the INDYCAR Fan Village tomorrow! I'll be there, too:
1:15-2 p.m. Novo Nordisk FlexPen Tunnel
2:15-3:15 p.m. IndyCar autograph session

P.S. Check out this photo gallery of my visit to the Honda plant yesterday. See?! I told you it was cool!

Getting set on pitlane for
the first practice.
2 p.m.
It was a good first practice. Obviously we only had 30 minutes on one set of tires, so the other guys got a bit more time. I don’t like the short practice, but I’ll take a 9th-place finish in St. Pete over extra track time today for sure. We still need to do a little work; we’re not quite there yet. Each of the four Ganassi cars have strengths in different places, so we just need to put it all together. I’m not sure if it’ll rain for the second session, but we’ll have to make the most of it and see what we can do.

11 a.m.
It's the first day of practice here at Barber Motorsports Park! I just finished up a meet-and-greet and about to head to the drivers' meeting in a bit.

For those of you on Twitter, I have exciting news! Starting here at Barber and throughout the whole season, I am introducing a Pit Lane Reporter (PLR)! You'll be able to receive live update tweets while I'm in the car for practices, qualifying and of course the races. Follow @racewithinsulin and keep up to speed even when I'm on track! The updates will be signed "PLR" so you know I'm not tweeting and driving. Safety first! :)

Thursday, March 29:
6:46 p.m.
Let me just say... The Honda plant was SO cool! I was totally impressed by the whole process. The plant I visited in Lincoln, AL produces all of the Honda Odysseys sold throughout the world... Yes, ALL of them! They can get out 1500 vehicles per day, and every single one goes through a complete test before it's sold. Amazing!

I'm about to start my Novo Nordisk presentation then head off to dinner. Looking forward to getting on track tomorrow!

11 a.m. (Central)
Welcome to Alabama! I just got to the track and checked out the No. 83 car a bit. We'll be working hard for a good qualifying spot this weekend, and hopefully we can duplicate what we did in last week's race for another top-10 finish.

Check out the transporter... sweet!
I'm about to head off to a Honda plant visit with my teammate Scott Dixon... a quick lunch, tour and meet-and-greet with the Honda employees. It's always cool to go "behind the scenes" like that! After that, I'll come back here to the track for a quick interview before making a sponsor dinner appearance.

Here's a run-down of the Barber track schedule (all times local):
Friday - 12:30-1:30 p.m. practice and 3:30-4:30 p.m. practice
Saturday - 8-8:20 a.m. practice and 9:40-10:55 a.m. qualifying
Sunday - 8:40-9:10 a.m. warm-up and 1 p.m. race!
Follow INDYCAR timing and scoring here, and tune into the race at 1 p.m. Central on NBC Sports.

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