Well call me a cocky old punk, but I reckon we can qualify top six tomorrow. The first practice session went really well, the No.15 Ontario Honda Dealers WoundedWarriors.ca car was good right off the truck and we ran second for a lot of it and wound up fifth. We spent the first three-quarters of the session working on trying to find some grip, because the car’s really sliding around a lot and not biting into the concrete surfaces.
So when you see us at 13th fastest, don’t worry. We just went up a technical cul de sac. We did a bunch of changes including the shocks, changing this and that, and when we went out on a set of stickers (blacks – no one’s wasting reds yet) we were really far away from where we began and we’d lost the balance. We just couldn’t get back to that original setup in the time available so that compromised the new tire run.
But the important thing is, we didn't get lost. We had a good debrief in the KV Racing trailer, and we’ll start tomorrow with what we think is gonna work. And the great thing about this event is that we have more practice before qualifying. Overall, I think we’re looking good. I think Jimmy’s disappointed that we didn’t run better on the fresh tires, but we’re all being realistic: we’d just gone too far down a particular road of investigating to suddenly turn the car back. So let’s be grateful that qualifying is tomorrow rather than today.
The track’s not as bumpy as I expected, and the bumps aren’t really upsetting the car but there’s just not a lot of grip. I mean, it’s nothing you didn’t encounter when we were in a Champ Car, but overall, these cars have less downforce so it makes the sliding worse. I think Firestone also has a slightly harder tire than we ran in the past: I think we used to run a Street Course 1 tire, and this is a 2. Weird thing is, it’s not lasting that well either; the concrete’s making it go off pretty quick, so it will be interesting to see what the reds do. I think they’ll be worth a lot of time…But I wonder how long they’ll last.
The crowd numbers looked pretty low today. There were a lot of the old Champ Car fans back, but there weren’t as many people as I would have hoped for. But hey, it’s a work day, some of you people have real jobs while we drive around and pretend we’re not having fun. If the weather’s good tomorrow, I’d like to think we’d get a decent crowd.
That’s not the only reason to hope the weather stays good. I think I actually didn’t emphasize enough in yesterday’s blog [click here
] how bad this track is if it rains. It’s actually probably the worst track in the series. Remember Bambi on the ice? That’s an open-wheeler on a wet Toronto track.
I see Gil de Ferran said some good things about…umm…the older generation of drivers and wished me luck [click here
] . He’s a cool guy. I wonder if he’d give me a full-time ride in his Indy car team next year… If he can make that happen, they’ll be strong, for sure. And I hope Gil saw I was fifth quickest this morning.
If he’d been here this weekend, he’d also see how motivated I still am, and that I’m working my tail off to keep the sponsors happy. I think I’m also working hard in the cockpit and the trailer to keep the crowd happy. It’s no good me signing autographs like some kinda superstar and then getting into the car and driving like someone who’s past it. Open-wheel crowds are pretty sharp: they know who’s trying and who’s just along for the ride.
So tomorrow, we’ll back-track, get to the good baseline setup that KV Racing had when we pulled the car off the truck. The way I look at it is that although we went down a wrong avenue today, at least we can eliminate that from the checklist and we won’t waste time with it tomorrow morning.
Couple of Champ Car fans who I guess read the blog from yesterday asked me how different the IndyCar feels to a Champ Car round Toronto. Obviously it’s two years since we had the Champ Car race here, so it’s not a great comparison, but I’d say we brake about the same points but you’re probably going 12 to 14mph slower than in a Champ Car. I’d say the minimum speeds are the same through the corners, if you overlaid the whole lap. It’s just straightaway speed and acceleration is the difference, which is obvious because we’re what, 100hp down? Something like that. It makes it even more important to get good drive off the corners. I don’t have the data to prove it, but I’m fairly impressed that through the Esses at the end of the lap leading on to the pit straight, I reckon we’re going about the same rate as in the Champ Car.
A couple of people I need to mention. Mario’s thrown his back out on the bumps so we’ve been trying to get someone to take care of him and sort it out. This certainly isn’t a track that’s kind to you if you’re in pain. Secondly: Big props for my old Forsythe Racing engineer Eric Zeto, who’s working on Rafa Matos’ car. That Luczo Dragon car is going really quick and Eric’s on home turf engineering it. I thought after his time at Conquest Racing that Eric might be finished, but he’s landed on his feet with a good solid team and he’s doing a good job. But I hope we can beat him tomorrow.
Follow me on Twitter if you want – @paultracy3 but once I'm out of the US, it's pretty expensive for me to do it except from the web, so don't go expecting regular updates on what I'm eating or whenever I scratch my ass. But even tech-scared Malsher at RACER is starting to get his head around Twitter too, so when he corrects all my spelling screw-ups and posts this trash I send him, he'll alert you on @RACERmag.
Well, he'll try, anyhow.P.T.
All the rude kid's blogs can be found at [click here