INDIANAPOLIS – Last weekend I wrapped up the season in three different racing series,’ starting at the greatest race track in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the Skip Barber F4 Race Series.
I capped off the weekend by racing with the North American Formula 1000 and Formula 2000 championships at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.
At Indianapolis, I experienced both the lowest of lows and the highest of highs of my racing career. It started when I was a full second off Seth Brown’s pace in Wednesday’s first practice. On top of that, my car had engine issues.
I switched cars for the second practice and bounced back as the fastest driver in the final session. That helped me land the pole for the race on Thursday.
Friday was a rainy day and I knew what that meant: I was excited to face my weakness of racing in wet weather conditions. The only way to get better is to face your weakness.
Not long into the race, I misjudged turn seven, a hard braking zone. Since the tires were cool, I couldn’t get the car to slow down. I ran off the track, costing myself a shot at the win.
Over the course of the race, I eventually un-lapped myself and ran lap times that were consistently a second faster than the podium finishers. It stung knowing I was good enough to win, but that also gave me solace and I knew I could redeem myself in the second race that afternoon.
In the second race, I managed to emerge as the leader through a four-wide battle for the top spot. When I got to turn seven, I made sure to brake sooner after what happened in the first race.
I thought the other drivers were also going to use the brake sooner, but nope. They blew right past me and just like that I dropped from first to fourth.
On the third or fourth lap, I ran down William Lambros and passed him for third. Jeshua Alianell and Seth Brown were battling for the lead and I hoped their hard racing would allow me to close in.
As the laps went on, my wish was granted. As Seth challenged Jeshua down the frontstretch and into turn one, their pace slowed enough for me to catch the draft and close in.
It took me three laps to close in on Seth and Jeshua, and when I did, I passed Seth when he out-braked himself avoiding Jeshua in turn seven.
The next seven turns, from turn seven to the exit of 13 and onto the frontstretch, I was right behind Seth. I had enough momentum to pull to Seth’s outside in turn one, and I cleared him easily.
From there I pulled away, as Seth and Jeshua continued their battle for position.
I only got faster in clean air and ended up running my fastest lap of the race on the second-to-last lap. I had redeemed myself in dominating fashion: I won by seven seconds.
It was a good feeling knowing I was able to perform well and win. It was, however, bittersweet because I could’ve swept the weekend if it wasn’t for my mistake in race one.
That evening we flew to Pittsburgh to race in the Formula 1000 and Formula 2000 classes at Pittsburgh Int’l Race Complex.
I stayed up late that evening to study the track and after a good night’s rest we went over to the track Sunday morning. I had one qualifying session per car before each race, which meant I had to adapt quickly.
Unfortunately, I only managed to do this in one of the two cars.
In the F1000 I was able to qualify second, barely missing the pole when Nicho Vardis jumped to the top of the leaderboard late in the session.
I ended up with four laps in qualifying compared to Nicho’s six because my rear wing fell down. That forced me to come to the pits to get it readjusted.
After this, I went out to qualify in the F2000, a car Dustin Hodges had just acquired for Arrive Drive Motorsports. He hadn’t run the car before, but it won the SCCA Runoffs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, so we knew it was a good car.
A battery issue, however, kept us from qualifying.
The F1000 race was next and it went great. I took the lead on the start into turn one, but lost it a lap later when Alex Mayer passed me. It only took me five or six laps to catch Alex and retake the lead once again.
I went on to win by 15 seconds. I also learned afterward that Alex had some mechanical issues during the race. A win is a win, even though I’d like to have had a fair battle.
I guess we’ll find out next season when I compete for the F1000 championship.
In the F2000 race, I started third-to-last. Thanks to some drivers not being able to finish and a mid-race restart to allow me to catch up, I managed to bring home a podium finish in third.
I learned a lot during the race when I was behind Austin Hill. I experienced aero-induced understeer and needed to adapt to it. I also needed to stay attentive to Austin’s line on the race track and see where he was beating me throughout the race.
Overall, we had a very successful weekend with solid performances across the board.
These results have me very excited for next year, especially these Formula Race Promotions events where I may end up running four different open-wheel divisions!
I can’t wait for next season with Arrive Drive Motorsports and I can’t thank the Skip Barber Race Series enough for their invaluable role in my development throughout this year.