Thursday was a good day: we showed everyone that the GEICO gecko has fangs! KV Racing's No. 15 GEICO car feels good in race trim. I'd say the day was nice and productive, even though the rain meant we never got down to qualifying downforce like we wanted to.
I got up real early, went to the gym and Tony Kanaan was in there; we ran on the treadmills, chit-chatted, talked about the Floyd Landis situation – and then out on track he was kind enough to give me the big draft I was looking for. We ripped off a good lap, at 226.322mph. I came out of the pits behind Kanaan, and I think he was behind Dixon, and the three of us ran around in a row, and we got a big speed. So I was able to run with the fast cars today.
Tires weren't quite so durable today because of all the rain yesterday, making the track green by washing the rubber away. But, I was kinda surprised. They still lasted 23-25 laps. My longest run so far on a rubbered-in track has been 32 laps before the cords start to show.
Then we tried a few changes on the car and feel we made it a little bit better. We made some significant improvements, getting it comfortable in the draft, getting it comfortable enough that it gave me confidence even following cars through corners.
So that was part one of the job done. We think we've got a strong basis of a racecar. Sure, we'd like to have spent longer on it, to go up some avenues that might have worked or might have made it worse. But because Friday is looking pretty stormy, we had to hit the boost button in terms of getting through our program. So we came back and started switching the car over to qualifying trim – and that's when it started to drizzle, the track went yellow and it never went green again.
If we don't get out on Friday, then we're pressed for time for low-downforce practice. We'll have to just wing it on Saturday morning, when we have a two-hour practice session before qualifying. But hell, we've got a bunch of bright people working on the No. 15 GEICO car, and when my back's to the wall, that's when I show what I've got. I also have my teammates to compare notes with. I'm pretty happy with the KV Racing environment – we're working as a team, and it's interesting because we're all at different stages. Taku's a rookie but with good strong open-wheel experience; Mario and E.J. are at the same stage as each other, with a couple of years in Indy cars, but obviously E.J. took a hard knock so he's got to rebuild his confidence and feel out the handling of his spare car. And then I'm the veteran – the voice of wisdom and experience! How about that…
Speaking of experience, I was really surprised today to run into my old friend Bruno Junqueira and see that he got some laps in Bryan Herta's car to give the team some feedback for Saavedra. I hope FAZZT keeps their side of the deal and runs him this weekend. He deserves it. He's a former pole winner here at Indy.
Speaking of FAZZT, Honda Indy Edmonton and Northlands have announced they're going to be sponsoring me for Indy, and Alex Tagliani for some of the races before the Edmonton event. We're going to be called “Team Oh Canada.” And KV and myself are set to make an announcement in Toronto next Tuesday with some really good sponsors that are new to the sport. So I hope Randy Bernard is noticing the attention I can bring his series. I think we've made a pretty good splash and we're still beating the bushes trying to find sponsorship: In the last few days, things have been shaping up pretty good.
Me and Will Power did a cool little interview video for www.indycar.com – and he even dared ask me about 2002 even though Helio's his teammate. But I think he most wanted to know about driving the 1994 Penskes with the pushrod Mercedes engine, though. Us drivers are always hungry for juice, and those cars were mental. I hope at some point they'll show the bit where I interview Will and ask him about dingos.
Anyway, back to the track action. Looking at the time sheets here, I'm encouraged. Yeah, OK, we were second quickest today, but more important is the combined time sheet for the whole week – we're seventh but two of the cars ahead are T-cars – Helio's and Dario's. (That's a kinda forewarning in itself, I guess – that even their spare cars are potential winners, but that's another story). So that means we were fifth quickest in reality. I think that's genuinely a good sign; I think we're going to have a competitive race.
What about qualifying? Well, that depends on the weather, a little in terms of how much track time we get to try it out. The forecasts told us it would be sunny and hot Thursday, and instead it was overcast and became rainy, so how seriously should we take the forecasts that it's going to be stormy today? I don't know. What I do know is that my KV boys will have everything sorted for me so the GEICO car is ready to run first thing in the morning if we get the opportunity. We'll have it trimmed out and we'll find some empty track space and I'll mash the gas. There's no other way.
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