It's been a tough couple of races for everyone involved in the No. 22 Z-Line Designs car. Certainly the Watkins Glen race result didn't represent the potential the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team had shown in practice and for most of qualifying, and Iowa became a nightmare after some encouraging progress in qualifying. Thankfully, we still have eight races to go so we can climb back up the leader board. I want to give this team its first win in 10 years.
That win wasn't going to happen at Iowa, but I did think that track would be one of our best chances for a strong finish on a banked oval this year. Unfortunately, though, I got to watch a very interesting race from trackside!
The weekend started OK. Both Mike Conway and Tomas Scheckter had told me that the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing setup was good around there, and they were spot on. It was good, and in practice we made just a couple of small changes – driver preference stuff – and I was quite happy when we qualified 11th. I thought we had a good chance for the race, but then it all came to an end rather suddenly.
I had been sitting the same distance behind Danica for the whole first lap, and we went down to Turn 3 and everything seemed good, but close to the middle of the apex, the rear came around. We'd put in a couple of turns of front wing before the start and maybe the headwind caught that and pinned the nose down; perhaps we'd been that close to the edge.
It seemed like it took ages to crash – it felt like I was trying to save it forever – but I also knew from the moment it stepped out that it wasn't going to be catchable, that the rear wasn't going to dig in. I was very disappointed, and sad for my crew, because I think if we'd made it through the first few laps in the dirty air, we could have had a decent run. Now though, that's all ifs, buts and maybes.
We bounced back quickly from that, though. We were heading to Watkins Glen next, where last year I'd won and Mike had given his D&R car a great run into the top six. Even though we hadn't had a chance to test there this year because of the weather (see my last column), we were still optimistic. But, in the end, we had a difficult time and we were gutted that our changes to the car over the course of the weekend didn't make the positive difference we needed. It's so disappointing when that happens, because you can feel your chance slipping away – and the chance to take on Penske and Ganassi doesn't come along often for anyone in the IZOD IndyCar Series.