The “Month of May” is special for many, especially in my hometown of Indianapolis. It’s even more special when you have a role in it and I’ve now completed my first “Month of May” as a driver! And what an amazing experience it was. In the past month, so much has happened that will change my life forever. I got to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, on the road course, for the first time, experience my first oval race at Lucas Oil Raceway, graduated from high school, and was able to watch a very historic Indy 500. It’s a month that will be very special and I will remember forever.
My first experience on an oval was one to remember. Going into the weekend, my main goal was to be quick enough to run with the leaders by the end of the race. I knew I had a lot to learn, so each session I used every lap as an opportunity to try different things and get better.
Along with oval racing, another first was a single car qualifying format. Instead of all drivers on track for 20 minutes to do a lap, I had 2 laps to put the car on the limit and put up quick times. This was a super cool experience! I knew I had to be very aggressive and really push the car further than I had all weekend. And I did exactly that. The car felt more on the limit than I had ever driven it which led to my two personal fastest lap times of the weekend. When I got out of the car, I was shaking from adrenaline. But I knew there was still more in it. That time will come from experience and confidence. I was the 9th to qualify, and fastest at the time. As the track gripped up and those higher in the championship standings went out, I eventually ended up 15th.
You can check out my race highlight video here.
I started the race on Saturday May 29th (after a Friday rain out) with a very conservative start. I started on the inside and was unable to get quickly to the preferred high line and lost a few spots immediately. I wasn’t very comfortable with the car either. After a while, I gained confidence and started to push the car a little further and got to fight in traffic. I managed to gain back some of the spots I lost, but more importantly I had learned how to race in traffic and got a better idea of how to compete at this oval. I am super excited to try again next year. I feel like I am in a position where with a little more testing and more time in the car, I can be competitive.
My first oval wasn’t the only big thing that happened that weekend. While I was out at the track preparing for my race, my friends from nearby Avon High School were busy at our graduation, which I had to miss. So during a rain delay, I got the chance to have my diploma presented to me by the series owner, Dan Andersen. While it wasn’t a normal graduation, I would much rather spend it at a race track. It’s hopefully a true representation of what the future holds from me as I move on from high school. I’ll still be heading to college in the Fall at the University of Indianapolis with plans to study mechanical engineering, which will help me work with my engineers.
Following my weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway, I got to be a part of the welcoming of fans back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500! It was very refreshing to see the stands partially full again. Along with that, it was a highly entertaining race with plenty of excitement and a winner that will forever be big in the history of the race. So congratulations to Hélio Castroneves on joining the elite group of drivers to win the 500 4 times!
With no school for the summer, this gives me a little more time to spend at the shop and I’ve been able to work on my fitness and strength daily at Pit Fit. Now it’s time for one of my favorite tracks with a pair of races alongside INDYCAR at Road America in Wisconsin this weekend! The schedule is below and you can follow along at https://www.usf2000.com/results/live-timing or on the Road to Indy App. Note: times below are in the central time zone.
Thanks for all your support!