The weather on Saturday morning, was, by my estimation, pretty good. We were handed an awkward drying track situation, with overnight rain wetting most of the track pretty well. I just went out and looked for grip, and pushed it as far as I could. I had one long lazy slide in the carousel where I almost stalled the car as it came to a (almost) rest, but other than that we didn’t put a wheel wrong all weekend, and took home the pole on Saturday by a full second and a half. I couldn’t be happier. Glenn and Kevin and Mike and Matt and Jim all just did an amazing job, especially when you take into account that I haven’t driven the car since last October and it did not go through an off-season rebuild process.
I was really hoping for rain for the race Saturday but it was not to be. We just couldn’t quite match the paces of the guys in new cars in good weather. We are still campaigning a fifteen year old chassis, and I believe every other car in the top 5 is five years old or newer. That’s a lot of ground to overcome. We eventually slipped back to a happy fifth place. To show up in a field like this, and take pole in your first qualifying session back, and top 5 in the first race back, that’s really something worth holding onto and being proud of, and I am.
Sunday was nearly the same story. We ended up 0.076 seconds off the pole time, and ended up FOURTH! That’s how tight it was. This field is just a dog pit where everyone seems to have more fun the harder and more aggressively we race. It’s always been clean, but nobody at the front of this F2000 Championship Series field is messing around. Qualifying was again in strange conditions, with the track surface being tricky and the course being strewn with cars by the end of the qualifying session. The race went pretty much the same as Saturday, although the weather was sunnier and warmer which put us at more of a disadvantage, and we came home in sixth spot.
I couldn’t be more happy and proud of what we did at Watkins Glen. With no off-season testing, with new crew and engineers, with a long hiatus from driving open wheel for myself, and we showed up and grabbed pole in our first qualifying session this year by a pretty substantial gap. Again, with how fast the pointy end of this field is, if you can do that, you’ve achieved something worth talking about. It was a fantastic Watkins Glen weekend for us, and the guys just did an incredible job getting me a car that never had a single issue aside from the normal-weekend handling changes and setup tweaking.
Great job to everyone.