The month of May is in full swing in Indianapolis. And for the first time, I’ve been involved in what makes the month special in my home town. This past weekend was my first time racing on the road course at the famed Brickyard. And what an incredible experience it was. The first time I drove onto the front straight through the massive tunnel of grandstands past the pagoda was amazing and a memory I will have forever. For the past 11 years, I have been going to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch my heroes race, which made it all the more special.
After the first few laps on track, I was forced to forget the history and treat this event as any other race weekend. I am becoming more and more familiar with this car and the USF2000 series, and I knew I had a shot at putting up some good results. Unfortunately my first race day at Indianapolis didn’t reflect this. Circumstances out of my control left me with only six laps completed in the first two races of the weekend. In race 1, I had begun to make up a few spots from my starting position before a late move from a competitor took me out ending my race in the runoff area of turn one. Race 2 was even worse. Before I could even leave the pits for the pace lap, the car had a mechanical problem that kept me from starting the race. Frustrated from my first day of racing, I was determined to have a better day 2.
Rolling off the grid 19th, I knew I had some work to do to crawl back to the front of the field. So I made quick work of the start making up 9 spots (3 of those coming from a crash) moving up to P10 by the end of the first lap. A few laps after the restart, I got a little too deep on the brakes and lost 2 spots, so I had to focus to make up for what I had lost. So I put my head down and got the spots back and then later had a nice side-by-side battle through turns 7 and 8 to hold my position. I was gaining on the group in front of me, but ran out of time. It was my first Road to Indy top 10 and the best finish for the three-car Jay Howard Driver Development team this season, topping my 12th place result at Barber.
I am super proud of the third race and my first weekend at Indy. Despite the bad luck, I had a lot of fun and it was truly an amazing experience. I can’t wait for the day that I get a chance to race on the oval 😃. Thank you to all those who made this weekend possible. I want to thank the whole crew at Jay Howard Driver Development, including my cousin Sam Imel for filling in while the crew was split with the F4 race at Road America also this past weekend. Also thanks to Browning Chapman, Spruce Haven Farm, Doug Mockett, EVO, the B1 Patch, and Caldwell Realty.
Also, big thanks to Nancy and Joe at Hinchman Racewear for getting my new suit ready so quickly! I’ve been wearing Hinchman suits since I was 8 and it was great to debut it at IMS. I love it!
Next up is my first oval since quarter midgets! I’ll be at Lucas Oil Raceway (formerly Indianapolis Raceway Park) just a few miles west of IMS on Friday May 28th for the Carb Night Classic. I hope you can join us! I’ll also be a part of the pre-race party my Dad is hosting at the track. I hope you can join us!