Road America has always had a special place in my heart because in 2009 it was where I won my first race in a Skip Barber car. So going into the weekend I was very excited to drive a much faster car on one of my favorite race tracks. Many of the teams (including ours) had spent a test day at the track a month before the race weekend, so we knew everyone would be up to speed right away.
Our first day on track was Friday, which consisted of a one-hour practice session in the morning and a 30 minute qualifier in the afternoon. In the morning practice we ended up 6th fastest, but only used one set of stickers where the top 4 cars had used two. So before qualifying we felt fairly confident we had a good car for qualifying. Unfortunately the conditions had changed quite a bit for qualifying, and we didn’t make enough changes to the car to counter the changing conditions. With the hot track, I struggled finding much grip to match the times we needed to be on pole. So we ended the qualifier 7th for both races.
The race was at noon the following day, with similar track conditions to the qualifier the day prior. We had made some changes to the car with the hopes of finding more grip so we could move forward through the field. The start of the race was a little hectic with cars swerving to gain position, so I managed to stay out of any trouble and found myself in 6th after the first lap. Over the course of the race I had moved into 5th position, and with time running out I made an attempt to pass on the last lap. Unfortunately I went off during the attempted pass and lost that position, so I finished the first race in 6th place.
The second race was early the next day and the track conditions couldn’t have been any more different. It had rained
the night before and continued to rain until about an hour before the start of the race. So everyone started on rain tires, but the track was drying throughout the entirety of the race. Around halfway I had gotten up to 5th place again, but during a restart around the halfway mark I had made a mistake and fell back to 8th. The conditions were extremely tricky because certain parts of the track were drying while others were still wet. But with wet tires the car’s handling can be less than optimal. Towards the end of the race my left tire had gotten a flat-spot from locking it up in the brake zone, by the end of the race I was just hanging on to the car trying to finish. Luckily there was some attrition up front and I finished the race in 6th position
Overall the weekend wasn’t what I was hoping for, but we maintained our 4th place in the championship. Most of the point leaders had difficult races on Sunday, so in the coming race weekends it will be crucial to get back onto the podium to make a charge at the end of the season to win the championship.