5.31.2014 (via RACER.com) – The Indy Grand Prix and the Indy 500 have come and gone, and the month of May is almost over; it has certainly gone by in a flash. I have been absorbed solely into racing and nothing else during this time and it feels nice to finally have a little bit of a break before the next race at Pocono in July.
There have been some highs and lows, but it has been an amazing experience. It was very gut wrenching and saddening for my whole family to lose my grandfather, Poppy. I know he would have been very upset with me if I had let his passing interrupt my focus for the Freedom 100, as racing was everything to him. So, I tried to look on the positive side and stay clear-minded.
Poppy's life was absolutely amazing; he lived in a great era and what he achieved during his time on this earth was incredible. I'm completely blown away from all of the support and condolences from everyone. It has made me incredibly proud, especially when I went to Lucas Oil Raceway and saw that all the USF2000 and Pro Mazda competitors had the same tribute sticker that I ran at the Freedom 100 on their cars. It was hard to keep my emotions in check. I had a strong month racing-wise and I felt Poppy was with me all the way.
There was a great deal of expectation leading into the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race. The hype of the Indy 500 and everything else going on around us was hard to totally absorb. We also only had two days on track; I wish we had more time on The Speedway as it was such a blast to drive on. It went by so quickly and it was all over before I knew it.
Practice didn't start out so well for us. We all did qualifying simulations in the only morning practice session on Thursday, and straight away it became apparent that the Sam Schmidt cars were very quick. The team and I were still confident we could go out and be in contention for pole, but it was a little disheartening when that didn't happen. Zach Veach and I spent the rest of the session working together on our race setups. My racecar felt very good in practice, and Zach and I worked really well together, but it was hard to tell how we both compared to the rest of the field.
Qualifying went as we thought with Zach and I lining up in the second row behind Luis Razia and Jack Harvey. Everyone was very close except for Luis, who absolutely smoked us, which was a worry. I figured it would be really hard to break the draft in the race, and I felt as though my race setup was really good so I remained confident.
Carb Day was amazing! I was surprised at how many people were at IMS. I almost missed the drivers briefing because it was chock-a-block traffic getting into the track. It was a really cool experience to be competing in front of such a big crowd. They gave us all the pre-race lead in's and introductions, which was really special. It made it a little more nerve-wracking before the start of the race, but once we pulled out of pit lane, all my emotions and butterflies disappeared; I was only focused on the race.