7.16.13 – Toronto was an unknown for us, so I headed into it very open minded. Yes, we had a great momentum going racing on the ovals for the past couple of months, but Toronto was our first road course back and it was a street track. Although we had shown great success on road courses earlier in the season, it would be interesting to see how the other teams had improved.
My family continually reminds me that you have to work twice as hard to stay out in front rather than being the pursuer, so I approached Toronto in a mindset that the fight was beginning all over again. I was sure the other teams and drivers had been working even harder to improve on road courses as we would be racing on road tracks for the rest of the season. The plan leading into Toronto was to focus on the championship and nothing else.
This is a very critical point in the season for me as we now have a cluster of races over such a short period of time. I pushed all thoughts about keeping the winning streak going out of my head. It’s critical that I remain focused on finishing every race accumulating as many points as I can.
Since I had heard so much about Toronto from my father and the team, I was really excited to be finally heading there for the race. They are right; it is such a pretty city! My eyes were wide open when we were walking the track as I wanted to see it all as I knew I would never notice the beautiful scenery while I was flying around the track in my MAZDASPEED race car.
On Friday we had two practice sessions and qualifying. The car was again fast straight out of the box. This really made it a lot easier to learn the track as quickly as possible and get everything sorted out for qualifying. We seemed to have kept that slight advantage over everyone coming out of the ovals and leading into Toronto, so I was quite confident of a good result and this showed when we qualified on pole.
In the first race I managed a good start and a gap on the field. What can I say – the car was perfect, and it was a fantastic race for me to lead start to finish. It was quite hot, however, and the race ran green for the entire time so it was by no means an easy race. At times like this it is hard to keep your concentration going through the technical sections as the sweat runs down into your eyes. However, it is always a good feeling to win and it definitely never gets old. Toronto is Yancy’s home town (my engineer), so no one was more excited to get the win here more than he was as he has never won here before either.
After winning Race One my engine was collected for routine verification, consequently forcing my team into a late night scramble changing engines and making sure everything was working for the next race the following day. That race was a standing start, so on Saturday I made a point of watching the IndyCars attempt their standing start. I was a little nervous heading into our start after not having done standing starts for such a long time and with the aborted attempt by IndyCar still fresh in my mind.
Our series didn’t have any troubles and it was a fantastic start; everyone did a great job! Thankfully, I managed another good start and got into the lead at the first corner. The Andretti team did a fantastic job putting the engine together, and it ran perfectly throughout the race. Sunday turned out to be an even hotter day than Saturday so it was even tougher to keep my concentration throughout this race. The Andretti Autosport MAZDASPEED car was once again absolutely fantastic! Even though we had one full course yellow, I kept the lead from start to finish.
I cannot thank the team enough. They have worked so hard the entire year and everything has been unbelievable. I’m happy for them as much as I’m happy for myself. I’m just enjoying the moment as it is not always like this and the important thing is remaining focused on the championship.