I have lost count of how many times I’ve been to Sebring International Raceway over the past few years. Everyone tests here multiple times a year since it’s one of the few places warm enough to test during the off-season and it also helps prepare setups for street races. But this weekend was the first time since 2019 and the Lucas Oil School series that I have gotten to race around the 3 ¾ mile full course filled with all the bumps that make up Sebring. It was also the first time in a decade a formula car as fast as our USF Pro 2000 cars have raced at Sebring.
I was very excited to get to Sebring for rounds 3 and 4 because of the track. The long straights and variety of different styles of corners promote close racing and a tight field. We rolled out of the box very strong and were able to put the car inside the top 10 for practice. We knew the car was capable of a good time in qualifying and I just had to put together a lap.
Unfortunately, during the first qualifying session, I made a slight mistake on what would have been my best lap in the final corner, losing a few tenths, and had to start from 17th. But we had strong race pace, and I was able to fight forward. In race 1, I had made my way up to 11th/12th with several great back-and-forth battles (including a side-by-side from turn 7 through 13). The fight forward and challenges for position impacted my tire life (I think I learned something to help) and I lost a spot to my teammate late and finished 13th in the 19-car field.
Qualifying for race 2 went much better. I got strong laps in early which were good enough to have me as high as 5th midway through and no lower than 12th as positions changed. I was on a lap that could have put me up to P9 or P10 but a red came out which took my lap away. But I knew I was capable of the doing the time and I had a lot of confidence going into race 2.
The second race was very scrappy. I moved my way into the top 10 pretty quickly where I was fighting for most of the race and again gained great experience mixing it up with really talented drivers with impressive international experience. A late race yellow packed up the field setting up a one-lap dash to the finish.
I had been going back and forth for 9th and 10th and was 10th on the restart. I picked up two spots through turn 13 with still time for more – and then chaos ensued! Two drivers in front of me came together but I was already looking inside and didn’t lose any momentum staying to the left to avoid them. So, I was up to 6th and I then got a good run on the long Ullman Straight leading to the final corner and executed an inside pass to finish 5th. Five spots in one lap! It was a very exciting last lap, to put it mildly. I will post the on-board video to it soon – although the amount of dust kicked up throughout the race almost covered up the camera. Race 2 was also very difficult for all of us physically. It was 90 degrees and the slow laps under caution with no air flow make it worse. It was great to be able to finish it off and know there is more room to get better prepared physically.
I’m very happy with the progress we made and our ability to compete and stay in it through the final lap. I owe my team, Turn 3 Motorsport, a huge thank you for giving me a really good car. We will continue pushing to get better and more good things will come this season! I need to continue to get better at qualifying. We have made progress since St. Petersburg, but there is still more room to grow. I will continue to work and get better between events, and we will be ready to go come May.
Next up are my home races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We will have two races during Indy GP weekend May 11-13. But for now, I went straight from Sebring to Homestead Miami Speedway to coach for the Lucas Oil School of Racing in their Pre-Season Race Events. As always, many thanks to those who have supported me this season and over my career.