We climbed from 27th (just our luck of the draw, huh?) to finish sixth. I was pretty happy about that. If the race had been longer, or if I had started higher up, I think we'd have had an even stronger finish. Would we have won? I'm not sure; we'd have had to get lucky.
There's been a lot of back and forth about how the grid was decided for Race 2. It did bother me, but you have to be careful how you voice it. I agree with Dario, but I'm not going to go on TV and talk about it because the fans perceive you as a whiner and complainer – which Dario isn't. We're paid to do our jobs and it's best you just go and do that. Do I agree with how the grid was decided? No – and you hate feeling sympathy for Dario because he's in a position to go win every other weekend and he'd already won a race that night! But he's going for the championship, and when a race is influenced by a lottery, it's out of his control. A single yellow would probably have helped him into the top three, but there weren't any wrecks in the second race.
That brings me onto another point: Texas Motor Speedway is a dangerous place, and I think the IZOD IndyCar Series is lucky to have the quality of drivers it does right now. We're making a lot of close calls out there, plus we have the double-file restarts, and I think the lack of yellows is because we're just not making mistakes. However, when there is one made, I think it's going to be pretty major. Hope I'm wrong, but…
Milwaukee, the track where I scored my first IndyCar pole in 2008, was a bit of a bummer for us this year. We got a little mixed up with the tires in practice, so in the final session before qualifying, I only had one set to use and everybody else had two. The session before, we'd hurt the right rear on one set and instead of stopping with 15 minutes to go in the session and saving tires, we just used another set. So we had less opportunity to try different options in the final practice, and that put us into a little bit of an unknown for qualifying. It was a case of just getting what the car could give us, and on our run, the car bottomed a little bit, so I had to lift, otherwise I think we could have been further forward.
Ninth wasn't a terrible starting spot, but I went way too conservative in the race in terms of downforce – and we missed the balance, too, so that double negative just killed us. I couldn't even pull fourth gear at times, so there were guys driving 'round the outside of me. I was able to get a few cars on restarts and hang toward the front of the field at times, but as the race went on and the track got rubbered up, we just got shuffled back by the cars running less downforce who now had the grip they needed.
Iowa this weekend is a track I'm a lot more optimistic about, despite getting the downforce level wrong for qualifying. There are places to pass here, so it could be fun. Toronto and Edmonton should be good, too, because we'll see more evidence of last winter's road/street course work paying off. Are we better than the big guys? No, not yet. I don't think we improved enough to go and put ourselves on pole, although Ryan's been darn close. But do we have a shot? Absolutely.
But like I say, hopefully the revival starts this weekend in Iowa.
Thanks for reading.