6.18.13 – Heading into Milwaukee, I was still on a high from the win at Lucas Oil Raceway. The race at LOR had been awesome for us as both the team and I had never won there. Our car had been very strong so there was no reason we couldn’t carry that momentum onto the next race at Milwaukee. My engineer Yancy has quite a passion for ovals and has been very determined to do well on them; this was somewhat inspiring, and although I have only just started racing on oval tracks, I also have grown a great passion for the challenge.
Leading into the race, we had a test day at the Milwaukee Mile. This was incredibly valuable as it gave us very useful track time and an opportunity to sort a few things out as we would not have much time in the practice sessions before the race. The testing went very well for and proved to be very useful as it gave our team an insight into the ever changing track conditions. Also, the track was fun to drive on and the car was working great all weekend… for us, it was almost full throttle the entire way around. We were very close to the edge for pretty much the entire time we were there; it’s always challenging but exciting when you’re close to the edge.
Coming off a strong practice day at Milwaukee, our goals for the race were obviously to stay on top, but also to keep up with the changing track conditions. We knew we had a fast car so it was a matter of keeping the car fast and not going backwards. The first couple of practice sessions went well for us, and we continued to keep up with the changing conditions learning more as the Indy Lights and IndyCar rubber altered the track. Our car characteristics were changing in the same manner as to what the Indy Lights guys were saying… luckily we had time to make a few adjustments and find a little more speed right before qualifying.
Qualifying went exactly to plan for us. The car was extremely well balanced and easy to drive, but it was also quick! We managed to get the pole by seven tenths, which was fantastic. Although the only thing that counts is the race, so we remained focused on our race setup and what our plan was going to be.
The race was scheduled to be 100 laps. The engineers were worried that we would be borderline with fuel and that we might not be able to make the race without running out of fuel. I suggested we just do a splash ‘n go (I was hoping we could do it like IndyCar) – that would be so cool. The race coordinators didn’t like my idea and the other teams were in the same boat so they reduced the race to 90 laps. This still would be the longest race we do all year, so the plan was definitely to save the tires. We knew we had a fast car so what we didn’t want to do was jump out of the box like a bat out of hell and burn the tires off before the end of the race. If a caution came out and everyone caught up right before the finish we would have no tires to fight with to the checkered flag.
It was a good, clean start, and I quickly built up a gap in the lead and just tried to maintain that. This was a new experience for me as I am always 110% from start to finish. However, a caution came out just before the end of the race and this brought everyone together for the last few laps. I was lucky enough to have a few lapped cars between myself and second place and our plan to manage the gap paid off as we had plenty of tire left to race to the finish and get the win.
I cannot thank the team enough! It has been an unbelievable year so far and they have been working incredibly hard. Everything has been falling into place and I think we just need to enjoy the moment as this doesn’t happen very often. Thank you everyone!