Dan Clarke is a Firestone Indy Lights driver, nicknamed “Speedy Dan,” the native of Maidenhead, England has been racing since the age of 8. Here Clarke talks about the Mid-Ohio 100 race, where he finished second.
After scoring 2 top 5’s in Canada we were now on a high and it felt like we’d found our speed finally. But next up was Mid-Ohio and a track I’d never driven and others had tested this year AND raced last year. So the most I could do to learn was watch onboard videos, play some rFactor and ask other drivers for tips.
The practice sessions went surprisingly well. The car felt great right and that can make your weekend a lot easier. You often hear driver’s victory speeches mention how good the car has been all weekend and it certainly helped me to spend more time putting laps in and learning the track and not having to put to fix a car balance issue. Qualifying was great. We really only just missed out on P2 but finishing top3 again was awesome. I couldn’t figure out how Plowman managed to be half a second faster but in the race expected us all to be the same pace.
It turned out to be one of the longest races so far this year. Just because I was having to drive super hard in 3rd to stop Charlie Kimball catching me for the most part. As a team, we’d missed the boat again with getting the right grip balance for the race, and once the green flag has dropped you only have your front roll bar adjuster to try and help that inbalance. And I was already maxed out on that. So I just had to hold on and maintain a gap from Kimball whilst watching the front 2 cars get away from me. Finally Kimball’s car went away with 10 laps to go and by then I was catching the front 2 a little. Seems like Hinchcliffe gifted me another 2nd place when he made a mistake in front of me into turn4 and slid off. So 2nd place finish for me was great and much needed points again.
I think the best moment from this weekend, apart from learning a track from scratch on Friday and Qualifying P3 on Saturday, was at the Checkered flag when Derrick said well done. I’ve been working hard a lot this year to change some of the reputation I picked up from Champ Car when I was alot less experienced and made mistakes. This year one of my goals was to show people I can be consistent and clean and bring the car home. Even at the beginning of the year halfway through the first race when I’d overtaken cars from 11th to 7th, Derrick came on the radio and his voice seemed to be urging me to take it easy and consolidate my position now. I remember thinking he was probably concerned I might keep pushing and make a mistake. Maybe like some people expected me to in 2007. But crossing the line on Sunday and hearing Derrick say really great job for
holding on, when he knew from lap5 I had an understeering car, gave me a big sense of relief. Like I’d really made some headway this year showing people I can be consistent.
But for the next race at Sonoma, we have to win. The wins are really what we need as a team this year. It is a tall order to be a brand new team with a car we don’t know and to try to beat the AFS and Schmidt cars but we’ve been knocking on the door for a few races now and with only 4 rounds to go it’s time to bring it all together and get on the top step. Let’s see if we can do it!