Coming off two victories in Toronto I couldn’t wait to get back to racing and hopefully keep up the winning streak. Back-to-back oval races at the Milwaukee Mile and Iowa Speedway were next on the schedule. I won the Pro Mazda race in Milwaukee with Juncos Racing in 2014 so we were excited to be heading back.
The schedule was pretty condensed. Practice and qualifying were late Saturday afternoon and we had a warm-up session Sunday morning followed by the race. Practice went pretty well. I was fast throughout the whole session and ended up P3. The car was working well and I knew we could make a few small improvements for qualifying. We did just that and I qualified on pole position! My first on an oval. My two main championship rivals were back on rows 2 and 3 so I was confident we would be able to close the point’s gap.
The start of the race was close; I battled side-by-side with RC Enerson for the opening laps. I didn’t take too many risks early on in the race and I settled into 2nd. Everything was going well until a restart about half way through the race. I had shifted up to sixth gear because of the draft I was getting from RC, when I went to shift back down into 5th the gearbox went into neutral instead. I was stuck on the rev limiter for what felt like forever until it finally changed back into 6th gear. By that time lots of guys had passed me and I ended up 7th by the time I got to turn 1. I was forced to leave it in 6th gear for the rest of the race, which wasn’t ideal. 5th gear was the running gear so it killed my momentum on exits and I couldn’t get passed anyone. In the end I only lost 3 points in the championship, which isn’t as bad as it could have been. I got the bonus points for pole position and fastest race lap. Still, it was disappointing, as we should have gained quite a few points.
From there we went straight over to Iowa for the third and final oval race of the season. Unfortunately we struggled throughout the weekend. We made lots of changes but nothing was really making a big improvement. I was first up to qualify which isn’t the best spot, usually you want to be towards the back of the line. I only managed 9th even though I was flat out for the entire run. It just wasn’t our weekend, I was up to 7th at one point during the race but fell back to 8th by the time the checkered flag came out. Again, we didn’t lose many points because Harvey only finished 5th. I’m still second in the championship, 18-points back with four races to go.
Next up is Mid-Ohio, one of my favorite tracks. Hopefully we can get back on the top step of the podium and gain some ground in the championship standings.
Special Thanks to Mazda, Cooper Tires, Doug Mockett & Company, Rising Star Racing, The Stutz, BAD, California Scents, MOBĒ, Brad Penn Oil and of course the Juncos Racing team for all of their hard work.
Thanks for reading,