With 2 races to go and 5th place in the series getting ever closer the heat was on us to figure out the last scraps of speed in the car on ovals and keep the awesome streak of top 5 finishes going. Kentucky was up and another demanding 1.5 mile flat out oval challenge we had to tackle with both hands.
Qualifying went extremely well. Once I’d gotten over the initial running around a new oval flat out at 190 mph we managed to eek out a pretty decent setup and overall speed to place the car 5th for the race. Things were really looking up as we figured our car’s strongest point wasn’t in outright speed on it’s own, it was better suited for running in traffic in the race. It usually stays strong and helps me bring it home in the top 5.
Now the road courses are over and done with, it’s time for us to knuckle down and figure out this 1.5mile oval car. 190 mph flat out banked oval racing in packs is thrilling stuff and you need to keep your wits about you at all times because everybody will generally stay in a big bunch and constantly be dicing for position. You also need a good car to be fast in clean air and stay flat out in traffic. And that’s what we as a team had to develop.
I’m not pleading poverty though. I’ve probably harped on about the disadvantages we’ve faced as a team from the outset enough already. The reality is I’m more than pleased with what Derrick and his team have provided me with at each race and the chances I’ve had to really race hard against a lot of good drivers and teams. I knew at the beginning of the year the advantages of being with Walker Racing would always far outweigh any disadvantages.
Chicago was a really solid weekend us. Qualifying 11th showed again that some of these Lights teams know something about Qualifying that we don’t. I don’t think it comes down to engineering ability, I know I have a really good engineer, it’s just they’ve ran this car for nearly 10years already and we are new.