Austin Cindric: GP of St. Pete
St. Pete had it’s ups and downs for me. Between racing incidents and mechanical issues, I am still looking at St. Pete as a positive. The race weekend started early Friday morning with our first practice session, and then later that afternoon was the second and final practice session. Finishing the day a solid 7th was encouraging being only a few tenths out of first.
Qualifying started at 11 o’clock Saturday morning. With the skies turning black as we pulled out on track, I knew that I had to get my lap done early. After the first couple of laps there was a red flag for a car in the wall in turn 12. With half the session already gone, the track was green again. After two or three laps the car started an intense misfire, killing all my straight line speed. This issue carried on throughout the session. I posted a time that was only good enough for 13th, which was going to make the races more difficult to make it to the front.
Race 2 was dry and presented better opportunities for a good finish. I still had to do a lot of passing if I was going to do so by starting 12th. The green flag flew, and I had already passed three cars in turn one. I had closed the gap on a group of five or six cars coming out of turn 3. The cars in front of me were doing a lot of dicing around heading into turn four. Before I had even started to turn, cars were spinning in all directions. By the time I had found the way out, the car in front of me slammed on his brakes in order to miss a car. Too late to be able to react, he was already halfway up the front of my car. It took two laps for the safety crew to get it all sorted. With a broken front wing, I had to make a pit stop. My Pabst Racing guys did a great job with a quick stop to get me back out on track. Being two laps down, all I could do was run laps and practice my racecraft. Beside the fact that my race was over, I was having fun. I was running laps as quick as the leaders and was running down fifth place on the last lap. I was able to salvage a 10th place finish.
We didn’t quite get the results I was wanting, but there are many positives to take away from St. Pete. We were fast, we improved the car, I continued to prove my racecraft, and most importantly I had fun! I am looking forward to better results and good racing at Barber in a couple of weeks.