I’m back home now from last weekend’s races at one of my favorite race tracks in the world! Rounds 9 and 10 took place at the fast 4-mile road course in Wisconsin – Road America. This has been an event I had been looking forward to all season because of the fun, high commitment corners, and my past experience and success at the track in lower formulas. I knew that I had a chance to really be competitive and get some experience running up front. The results don’t really show it, but I think I took a big step forward last weekend.
Unfortunately, some bad luck in qualifying for race 1 put us at the back of the grid. We tried a strategy using 2 sets of tires, giving up a set of stickers for one of the races. One of the most challenging things for new drivers to learn is how to “turn on” new tires and get the most of the added grip. On the 1st run, I was 2nd after my first lap and 4th on the 2nd lap. At a big track like Road America, the Cooper Tires lose a little time after the 1st or 2nd lap. Only 14 of the 25 had left pit lane, but it was still a good run. On my 2nd run, when the track would have more rubber and produce the best times, I was on my fast lap when a local yellow flag towards the end of the lap caused me to give up the lap. So, I started 19th. I went into the race with a very aggressive mindset to try and make up as many spots as possible. Starting P19 meant that I had to get to the front end of the pack before the leaders broke away if I wanted any shot at a strong finish. So, from the drop of the green flag, I began to pick off cars and work my way through the field. I had worked my way up to P11, but a driver behind me made a mistake and hit me in the left rear wheel, turning me and damaging the car. So, I limped to the finish 23rd. At the time of the incident, I had passed the most cars in the race and was still moving forward.
Race two had a similar start. I worked my way through the field from P20 up to P11, which was still in the lead pack. I had a lot of fun this race batting to get up to the front. Now, I needed to put my head down and work on continuing to move up, but a mistake cost me several seconds and dropped me back to about 20th. I recovered to get back to 13th, but on the last lap I was shoved off and lost more spots ending my race in P18.
While these weren’t the results I wanted, I showed that I could be quick and fight with the leaders. The bottom line is I need to be able to qualify better. And no matter what the results are, I find it difficult not to enjoy a race weekend at Road America! Now on to Mid-Ohio over the 4th of July weekend with INDYCAR. It’s another track that I have some experience at in lower formulas. My first win in my very first formula car race was there two years ago in the Lucas Oil Formula Car Series, and I got my first F1600 win there last year. I’m super excited to get back in the car and go for a good result! As always, thanks to all those who support me and give me the ability to race including our primary partners Browning Chapman Specialty Contractors, Doug Mockett and Company, Spruce Haven Farm, EVO and Caldwell Realty, and everyone involved at Jay Howard Driver Development.