So you liked the last blog, huh? It feels like I’ve had a hundred people come up to me here in Milwaukee and ask about that Lincoln. Well, I tell you now, I love it and it’s not for sale. Go get your own.
I’ve also had a bunch of people ask to see the cardboard cutout of Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon, so if Malsher at RACER is on his game, he’ll stick it somewhere in this blog.
So let’s talk Milwaukee Mile, and my first drive for A.J. Foyt Racing. Today could have been disastrous. The result looks disastrous. But don’t worry, fans: We were just trying to make our rivals think we’re struggling, so we hid our potential until the last moment…
Okay, I’m jacking you around here. Yeah, we were way, way off in practice, but our qualifying run could have been way better than 16th. This morning in practice, the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. car was so far out it was crazy. The main problem was that the springs were way too soft at each corner of the car. I was understeering, oversteering, sliding and nearly losing it every lap. Milwaukee Mile is a great track because it doesn’t take any prisoners, but I don’t want to be the one proving it…
Just before qualifying, we changed everything but the driver, and so I went out and didn’t know what I was going to have. I may be a crazy bad-ass, but 18 years in Indy cars have taught me not to just put the hammer down when you don’t know how the car’s gonna feel or respond. So I played it conservative, and it was only the last two laps of the four-lap qualifying run where we ran decent. Grid slots are based on the average of four laps though, so the first two laps dragged our average down.
In a way, I’m bummed because where we’re at now with the car is where we should have started at first thing this morning, basically. But on the other hand, we know we have a pretty good car now. My last lap was a 22.5, and I could have run that on the first qualifying lap. I think mine and Danica’s qualifying runs were the only ones that had the fourth lap as the quickest. The others I guess were nearer the limit of their cars and their tires from the get-go, so obviously the tires lose that little bit of an edge by lap four. Because we weren’t pushing so hard at first, we kept getting faster.
The negative side is that we wasted a whole practice session with the wrong setup on the car, so we don’t yet know how the car’s gonna respond with the right setup when we have a big fuel load, and with traffic. The only time I was in traffic today, we were still so upside down with the set up that I can’t judge how well we’ll handle in traffic. And we don’t get a warm-up session tomorrow either, so I’m gonna have to play it cool and improvise if there’s still a problem. So that can be fun, you know, but we’re here at ABC Supply’s home track, and it’s the race named after A.J. so I really wanted us to be giving them a better showing.
So a bit of a tumultuous day (my spell-checker says I spelt “tumultuous” correctly which is the biggest result of the day), but we got it sorted out, which I don’t think we can say about Vision Racing. What the hell’s happened there? Ryan’s gotta be pretty unhappy.
RACER told me if I ran out of things to say, I should compare A.J. Foyt Racing to KV Racing. Well, I just ran out of ideas, so… I think those two teams are about the same size, they’re both one-car outfits. But KV has about six engineers and four team managers for one driver; I think they have more engineers than mechanics. Here they have A.J. himself and they have Adam Schaechter (I think that’s right – I know it’s not spelled like Tomas Scheckter) and the crew. Adam’s my engineer; he used to engineer Bruno at Dale Coyne Racing.
So there was a screw-up today, but I’m now pretty positive we can actually do a decent job tomorrow. Put it this way, if we’d started out in practice where we are now, I reckon we could have qualified around 10th. Like I say, that’s frustrating and hopeful at the same time.
Anyway, we’re not dead last, and we’ve got some good drivers around us, like Wilson and my cardboard friend Mr. Wheldon. The plan now is to stay out of trouble and I think we can finish in the top 10. I don’t think we’re gonna win it but we’ll try and make a good start and I think we can get a half-decent finish out of it. You can bet there’s gonna be attrition, you can bet that there’ll be screw ups in pit stops, and there’ll be wrecks, so I think we might even get a top eight.
Back at ’cha tomorrow.