Sunday, March 25, 2012

Live from Trackside – Streets of St. Petersburg

Sunday, March 25:
3:45 p.m.
On the radio right after crossing the finish:
Engineer Brad: "Nice job! So how did you think you did?"
Me: "I don't know, top-15?"
Brad: "Try ninth!"
Me: "Well how about them ducks?!"

The whole race today was SO much fun. I guess it’s why they say it’s a 100-lap race; we had to run the whole 100 laps to get all those spots. I learned a lot about the car, especially in the first 30 laps and from there just kept applying it. The guys did a great job on the pit strategy. I know I leap-frogged a couple of cars, but I can’t give enough credit to the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew in the pits today. The race was pretty awesome. It’s nice to get another top-10 to equal my career best in IndyCar. We learned a lot about the car, the brakes, the engine, and we’ll make improvements this week and head to Barber to shoot for another top-10. We’ll work hard on qualifying, and it’ll be a great season! Thanks for following along this weekend!

9:40 a.m.
With the weather and track conditions this morning, warm-up wasn’t good for much but we made sure all the systems worked, and a few pit stop practices got the guys ready for this afternoon. Starting in 22nd, we’re taking a wait-and-see approach. A lot of guys are having trouble in and out of the pit boxes, so we’ll have to keep an eye out for that during the race. I’m looking forward to it. The sun’s out, it’ll dry out, and we’ll be set. It’ll be interesting… with fuel mileage, pit stops and tire strategy, definitely lot to watch.

8:00 a.m.
Happy race day! Feels great to say that again. Just had a quick breakfast and chat with my engineers. I think we're ready to go today. We have warm-up in about a half hour, then a drivers meeting and team pre-race meeting before the green flag. Tune in to the race at 12:30 p.m. ET on ABC! Should be a good one.

Sweet shot from my friend Mark Harmel (
Saturday, March 24:
3:23 p.m.
Qualifying was a little disappointing. We didn’t get the speed we expected out of the car. The temperature caught us out a little bit. I made some decent gains driving-wise and made some improvements, and now we can go work on the car some more.

This place is funny; it always throws out an interesting race. But wherever we start tomorrow, we’ll still have a good race. Last year there was chaos at the first corner and throughout the race, so I think we’re in good shape.

I'm looking forward to dinner tonight with guests from Novo Nordisk. They're a great group and I know I can always count on them to cheer me on!
Just before morning practice
11:27 a.m.
It was a good final practice, just getting ready for qualifying. We ran a couple of new sets of tires. With the red flags and traffic, it was hard to get the lap time we wanted. There are a couple of places I can improve and a couple of places the car can improve, so we’ll see how it shakes out in qualifying. We’ll see what the red tires can do to the car and lap time.

8:45 a.m.
Good morning! It's always a good day when you know you'll be in a race car. I woke up ready and excited for qualifying. I've got a bit of time to talk to my engineers this morning before practice at 9:55 a.m. ET (follow along here), then an autograph session at 11:45 a.m. (in the Fan Village). The "main event" starts at 1:55 p.m. ... qualifying, that is! I think we have some ideas on gaining a little more speed, so I look forward to getting out there.

P.S. Check me out in Men's Fitness!

Friday, March 23:
4:35 p.m.
It was a good second session, a lot more productive than the first. We got a lot of data. It’s hard to judge lap times around here, but it feels good. We’re saving tires for tomorrow, so we’ll see how it all works out. The team is looking at the data quickly, and there are just a few places where we can make improvements. The guys are going to make some changes overnight, just maximizing a few things. I think we’re in good shape and we’ll still be shooting for a top-15 qualifying spot tomorrow afternoon.

After some more time with my engineers, I'm headed to dinner then resting up for qualifying! Thanks for reading!!

2:07 p.m.
At the Novo Nordisk FlexPen Tunnel
The first practice went pretty well. Making progress in the car. It's not relevant to what we'll see on Sunday because the track grip is coming up so quickly today. In the end there I just locked up a bit, so we'll be working on the braking. That's just part of practice on a street circuit.

After practice I headed to the Novo Nordisk FlexPen Tunnel to see some fans... Always a great motivator. A quick break then back on track!

11:13 a.m.
Good drivers meeting. Laying the groundwork for the year ahead. Can't wait for practice 1 in under an hour!

9:23 a.m.
Good morning race fans! Today is our first day on track and, if you couldn't tell, I am SO excited! I got to the track not long ago, and I'm about to get a sports massage from my trainer Alex. It's good to get the muscles loosened up before we get out there. We have a drivers's meeting at 10:30, then it's finally time to get on track for practice! Here's a quick run-down of my day:
11:50 a.m. - 12:50 p.m. Practice 1
1:30 p.m. Autograph session at the Novo Nordisk FlexPen Tunnel (INDYCAR FanZone)
2:50 p.m. - 3:50 p.m. Practice 2
Follow practice at!

Thursday, March 22:
8:30 p.m.
Just finished up with the track walk. I can't say too much yet, but I know it's going to be a good race. We'll be working hard tomorrow during practice to get the car prepped for the course. With a new car, there are always some unknowns but I think we have a good base of knowledge from testing and off-season work. For now, I'm headed to dinner. More tomorrow!

Looking at the last corner with my engineer.
11:45 a.m.
I feel like a kid on the night before Christmas… I’m stoked to be here in St. Pete for the first race of the 2012 season! This morning I headed to the WTSP TV studio for an interview with Jerome Ritchey–he’s always a fun guy to talk to. After that, it was straight to the track to get down to business! I’m about to have lunch, but first let me share a great article just published by Tim Tuttle over at “Influx of American drivers could usher in a new era in IndyCar.” Enjoy!

1 comment :

  1. Awesome performance on Sunday, Charlie! Way to kick of the season!