Thursday, September 20, 2012

A look back...

Is it September already? I feel like I’m finally coming up for air after being immersed since March, so now is a good time to reflect on the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season with the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team.

Pre-season testing at Sebring
Having the new DW12 put everyone on a level playing field in some senses. Throughout the many, many off-season tests, it was all about experimentation and finding out what works best, from the carbon brakes to the Honda engines and every little piece in between.

Coming into the season, we sat down and set some goals for the team and myself. I’m not a rookie any more, so it was important to use this year as a building period, using what we learned last season and improving on our weaknesses. Over the winter we set our sights on running inside the top-10 consistently with top-10 finishes. Looking back, I think we had our ups-and-downs, but overall I’m really pleased with the advancements we’ve made from last season.

The season started off on a high note at St. Pete with a ninth-place finish. At Long Beach, the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car was really quick and we ran up front in the top-10, but unfortunately we had an issue late in the race so our results just didn’t show our hard work. Brazil was a high point for sure—the guys gave me a great car, and with good strategy and a clean track we were able to come out with a new career-best of eighth.
2012 Indy 500
The Indy 500 deserves its own paragraph because it’s just that awesome, right? The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team worked so hard all month long, and I think that paid off with our 14th qualifying position. May can sometimes be a blur of countless appearances and miles and miles of practice runs, but I honestly had a ton of fun during this year’s race. The car was quick from the start, we had good restarts, we led three laps—and to top it off, we matched a career-best finish of eighth.

Toronto 2012
From Indy, the series had a month-long road trip that proved to be a roller coaster as far as our results. We came out with our third consecutive eighth-place finish at Detroit, then had some bad luck in Texas but came out of Iowa with some momentum heading into the two Canadian races. Toronto was a race like no other for me—the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car was super quick, the guys in the pits did their jobs perfectly, and I just went for it on the track. And we had our first podium, 2nd place, to show for the hard work… such a good day!

One of the low points of the season was definitely the testing incident when I fractured my hand. Missing Mid-Ohio was tough but we came back strong at Sonoma and Baltimore although with some issues, we didn’t get the results we wanted. It was nice to cap off the 2012 season with a top-10 at Fontana.

So there you have it… six top-10s, one podium, and a lot of time racing inside the top-10 positions. I know that the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team is going to come back stronger next year. We’ve got this figured out, and we’re ready to go figure out the rest of our shortcomings. We’ll be stronger next year, and more importantly, faster.

As for now, I'm headed off to somewhere sunny and warm for a much-needed vacation. Yes, the phone is turning off and sunscreen is going on! Thanks to all of the IndyCar fans, the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team, my awesome Novo Nordisk support system and everyone who has helped make this another fantastic season of racing. Already counting down the days until the 2013 season...

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