Sunday was the best experience I have ever had, not only the race itself but everything around it. I arrived at the track quite early with a police escort. It was my first time to have something like this and it made me feel like a big pro. There were already a lot of guests from William Rast and fans around our team garage when I arrived at 6:30 and it was great to feel their support.
When it came time for the race, I was quite nervous. It is such a huge event. I would have to say that a driver would be lying if they say they are not nervous. In some way, you have to be nervous or anxious to keep sharp in the decisions you are going to be making on the racetrack.
They took us into what is called the Green Room to wait for the driver introductions. All of the drivers were there, and I felt like the baby. I was with all these drivers who have so much experience here, including Roberto Guerrero who was with me, and people like Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and all the big names. This was my first time so I was definitely the new boy in town. They were treating me like a little brother and telling me so many good things from their experiences. Jack Nicholson was there, too. It was a great feeling.
The first thing I saw when we went out of the Green Room for the driver introductions was the amount of people around. I can't even describe the feeling I had. I couldn't see one free spot in the grandstands in front of me. It was crazy. It is something that makes you feel even stronger, not scared. These people were here for us because we were going to give them a show.
After all the presentations, the beautiful songs and the National Anthem, the soldiers walked down the track. You could see and feel the tremendous amount of respect from everyone.
I got into the car and knew that everything we had worked so hard for was finally here. Whatever happens, here is where it matters the most. I did have a small problem in that my drink bottle was not working. It was a bit disturbing because it was going to be a long and hot race. The temperature was already in the 90s and getting hotter. When I pressed the button and nothing came out, it was a bit frustrating. But I kept calm, and didn't put too much thought into it.
The warm-up laps were incredible. The amount of people was unbelievable. Every corner seemed so much smaller with the amount of people in the grandstands. It came down to the start and it was the first time that I have ever done a three-wide start. It was awesome even though I was on the back row of the grid. It was crazy, but great and I was able to win some positions.
During the race, every lap I was learning something new. I have to thank the No. 29 crew for doing such an amazing job on the pit stops. Everything went the way we were expecting it until I had my crash. We were battling a bit of understeer but everything was going fine. I had some turbulence from the car in front of me and wiggled and the next thing I knew the back of the car came around and I was in the wall. Unfortunately, I had done this before and now I knew how to crash. I kept my head and body back in the seat and not tucked in. I was fine.
The 400 miles that we did were the most amazing experience and something that has formed me not only as a driver but as a person and I am really thankful for the opportunity. This was my first race in the Indy cars and now that I know what it feels like, I can't wait for my second.