|The autograph sessions are always fun, but when one of your team owners is a famous actor, it tends to make you feel more popular than you are. Or, maybe less popular?|
* There are a few cars out there with drivers who always seem to see you coming and don't make your life too hard. There are also a couple that make me want to punt them off every single time I see them.
|This is my teammate Henri and I talking during a practice session early in the week. Henri and I are good friends and communicate well with each other – which is important since we are sharing the car all season.|
Wednesday the track was fully occupied by the various support series for the week, so our day was full of more mundane tasks; media stuff – photo and video – for the series and team, making further adjustments to the cockpit for driver comfort, and driver change practice.
|After several days of practice, all of the PC cars were hit with a ride-height change. We all had to go back and adjust a lot on the car after the change made a big impact on how the car handled.|
Thursday marked the official start of our race weekend, but unfortunately it continued the feel of the two days of testing: promising, but with issues tripping us up. First and foremost, the powers that be decided that the PC cars were too close to the P2 cars, so we were all slapped with a higher minimum ride height on Wednesday, meaning that we had to get back to work trying to recapture the balance we had been working for on Monday and Tuesday. Beyond affecting center of gravity, roll centers, and all of that good stuff, raising a prototype (or Indycar, F1 car, Star Mazda, etc.) takes away the underbody downforce, reducing overall download, but also changing the aero balance because the various underbody elements are affected by the ground effect differently.
|Part of what we practice is driver changes – time saved in the pits is big time on track. Here, I jump out and Henri is about to get in.|
For us, overall aero grip was only slightly reduced, but we picked up a really bad high-speed understeer, which was giving us fits in some of the most crucial turns on the track. To cap things off in the morning session, Henri Richard, my full-time codriver, lost the car on the way into turn 17, backing the car into the tire wall. Damage was fairly limited and Henri managed to drive the car back to the pits, but it cut our session short and gave the crew a bit more to deal with. Thankfully, the afternoon and night sessions passed without incident.
|After a week of testing, and a lot of hard work put in by the entire crew, as well as Henri, Dane, and myself, we knew we had a good car and were ready to race. Dane did a great job to qualify third, and if not for a late-session red flag, we could have been on pole.|
Friday proved to be another short day for me, as I only drove a handful of laps in our one practice session before leaving the car to Dane to qualify in the afternoon. Dane did a great job in qualifying, going to the top of the timesheets with each lap, but had been shuffled back to 3rd when one of the P2 cars had a crash in turn 1, bringing out a red flag and ending the session prematurely. Dane definitely would have had a shot at the pole if not for the red flag, but the drivers in 1st and 2nd were Bruno Junqueira and E.J. Viso, so Dane was certainly in good company at the front of the field.
|Here is some in car during my one practice session where I got some clear running. Even in practice, you can see how busy it gets when you are passing and being passed all the time.|