We are headed to the checkered flag in the Month of May! Before we get to the racing recap, a reminder of a couple of events this week supporting our charity partners.
Tonight (Monday May 22nd) is the Prime 47 Burger Bash supporting cancer research at the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. It’s in the back parking lot of the USAC building at 16th and Main in Speedway with front gate of IMS in the background. It is a free event open to everyone who would like to come. There will be a live broadcast of “Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee” and a live taping of “Speed Street” podcast with Conor Daly and Joey Mulinaro. There will also be Appearances made by IndyCar, Indy NXT, and USF Pro Championship drivers, a professional level racing simulator provided by Indy Simulations, Burgers available for purchase from Prime 47… Indy’s Steakhouse, Drinks from Indy’s Brew Bus and auctions with proceeds benefiting the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. I hope to see you there.
On Thursday, we are helping with a new event benefitting Race for RP and autoimmune disease research. It’s at the SILO Auto Club downtown from 6-9 pm. Defending Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson will stop by along with NBC’s Leigh Diffey, James Hinchcliffe, Townsend Bell and my Dad. Former F1 and IndyCar driver and commentator Derek Daly will be hosting and we’ll have simulators, a live performance with Clayton Anderson and auction items. Tickets are $150 each and available at SILO Race For Research Event – Campaign. We hope to see you this week!
Now, to racing. I had my first race of the month at the Indy GP as well as watching preparation for this year’s Indianapolis 500 with practice and qualifying. The Brickyard has been in full form with tens of thousands of people flooding in for practice and qualifying. It is truly a special place and a special time of year.
We kicked off the month with the Indy GP. This is one of the events I always look forward to each year. Not only is it in front of my home crowd, but it’s at a place that I’ve dreamed about racing at since I first got behind the wheel. I’ve also made big strides in learning the USF Pro 2000 car. I felt very confident going into the event and was ready to come out of the gates strong. And we did exactly that.
We had the car running towards the front in every session and finished each practice in the top 10. Qualifying was on a wet but drying track. The conditions were just in between the wet and the dry tires. We knew the wet tires would be better at the start, but we would have to make a call on which tire would be better at the end of the session. We decided to stick with the dry tire. It was very difficult to hold on to the car at the start of the session, but as the track dries and the tires heat up, the times will only get quicker. Each lap, we found more and more pace. Right at the end of the session, the conditions finally switched over to make the dry tire quicker. We had just enough time to get one good lap which put us up to P9 to start race 1.
Race one was also in very tricky conditions. The race started dry. Early on I was struggling under braking and lost a couple spots. After that, the rain came back. At this point, the race director red flagged the race too and required a switch to rain tires. But by the time we were ready to resume, the track had dried. The entire field had wet tires on a dry track. While it was manageable for a lap or two, the rain tires aren’t designed to get as hot as they would without being cooled by the water on the track. So, after about 2 laps in, everyone’s tires had lost significant amounts of grip. While everyone’s car was very difficult to control, I felt like I could manage it well. I was able to pick up a few spots and get back to where I qualified ending my race 9th.
Race two was back on a completely dry track. The team had made some positive changes to the car since qualifying and we had an extremely fast race car. Starting again from P9, I was immediately able to make up a position within the first couple of laps and was working on one more before the yellow came out. At this point I had the fastest race lap and knew I was going to keep moving forward. But before the race could be restarted, I had a mechanical issue with the car and my race was over. During the yellow, I had a wheel speed sensor fail and the computer in the car shut off. This one hurt. I think the car was capable of a podium and was for sure going to keep moving forward.
But we move on. We have one more race this month on Carb Night, Friday May 26th. We will be on the oval at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. This is our only oval of the year so it is important for us to get laps in and learn as much as we can.
It’s been a great first half of the month! I can’t wait for what’s to come!