Heading into Mid-Ohio we only had one goal in mind. Win or lose, I had to gain points on Harvey to have a real shot at winning the championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The first practice on Friday morning went very well, I was fastest by over half a second. We were very fast again in the second session but a few red flags prevented us from being right at the front.
Qualifying on Saturday morning was very close as always in Indy Lights. The session started at 8:00am so it was a bit cold out and the track temp was very low. We decided to start on used Cooper Tires and then pit twice for two sets of stickers. Usually that would have been the right call but looking back on it I don’t think we had enough laps on each new set. They take a bit longer to reach their sweet spot when the temperatures are lower and we didn’t do enough laps on either set to really get the maximum out of them. Still I was able to qualify third and we’ll know better for the next early morning qualifying session.
The first race was both good and bad. Good because I beat my two main championship rivals but bad because I only finished 8th. I was up to 2nd at the start and going into turn 5 the leader slid wide so I went to the outside for turn 6. I got a bit sideways and couldn’t make the pass stick. On the exit, Harvey had a good run on me going into turn seven. I was on the inside and when he turned in we touched. It gave me a flat tire so I had to pit for a new right front. Fortunately both he and Jones finished towards the back so I picked up a few points.
The starting grid for race two was based on the fastest laps from race one. Some of the drivers had problems early in the first race so they came in for new tires and set very quick laps. I wasn’t able to come in for new tires and a slightly damaged front end meant I only managed 7th on the grid. I started the race on used tires and everyone else in front of me was on brand new Coopers. I was up to 5th within the first few laps and could see Harvey and Jones fighting very hard for the lead. Eventually they touched, went off, and I slipped past to finish 3rd. Now I’m only 6 points out of the championship lead with two races remaining at Mazda Raceway on September 12th-13th.
Between now and the final Indy Lights race I will drive an IndyCar for the very first time at Sonoma Raceway with Team Penske! It’s always been a dream of mine to drive an IndyCar and I can’t wait to finally get behind the wheel of one.
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,