What a crazy weekend at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course! I came into the weekend on a four race winning streak and tied for points in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. Using all that momentum in Friday’s qualifying session I put my Team Pelfrey car in 2nd for race one and pole for race two! There was a small mix up on radio transmissions during qualifying which may have prevented me from grabbing pole for both races. But no worries, I was ready to get back to racing!
Mid Ohio is such a smooth and flowing track. You need to have rhythm, smooth hands, and patience! These qualities make it an extremely fun track to drive, but when it comes to passing it leaves a bit to be desired. So for Saturday’s race one I was happy to have a trouble free race and come home 2nd. My championship rival and teammate, Pato O’Ward, finished 7th so I was able to take the championship lead for the first time all year. It was a little crazy to think that just five races ago I was 55 points back. I couldn’t let my mind dwell on that for too long though as I had race two coming up later in the evening!
Race two was quite a bit more interesting. There were sprinkles coming down as I took the green flag from pole position. I made a good jump and had a small lead coming up into the Keyhole (Turn 2). Nico Jamin in 2nd place made a bit of a bold move up the inside and made contact with my right rear tire and side pod. This made me run wide but I got a good exit and was able to retake the lead down the back stretch. I thought I had the lead back, but instead Will Owen had a HUGE run and was all the way alongside me in the brake zone for turn 4. We went side-by-side all the way through turn 5 but Will took the position. After some more contact in turn 6 I had fallen all the way back to 4th! I was now looking at the back of Pato’s car which was not sitting well with me as we are in an intense championship battle. I spent a few laps sizing him up and just as the rain began to fall a little harder I made a move up the inside at turn 2. I made it stick for a second but Pato was already re-passing me on exit. Luckily the track was pretty wet at this point and Pato slid off the track and I was able to get in front of him. We then went under a safety car period to see if it was going to rain harder and we would need to switch to rains. The Ohio skies didn’t open up and we were able to go back to racing on a slick track! I made quick work of Will Owen on the start and set my sights on Nico in first. Unfortunately in turn one the first lap after the restart I got bogged down trying to get a run on Nico and was swallowed up by Will going into turn 2. I then focused my efforts on keeping Pato behind me and brought home a solid third place finish!
Although I was a bit disappointed with not winning any races this weekend I felt I had won the real battle of the weekend and that was taking the Championship lead and keeping my momentum rolling into the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca next month. A huge thanks goes out to all my supporters this season. I’m going to do everything in my power to bring this Championship home. Thanks to Team Pelfrey, Rice Lake Weighing Systems, Rising Star Racing, Styled Aesthetic, Morrie’s Mazda, Mazda, Cooper Tires, my parents, and all of you!
You guys rock,