Wow! What can I say? The past 24 hours have been incredible. I still can't believe that I am in the Indianapolis 500. I told someone today that maybe it is OK that I am sore from my crash on Sunday, because that means that this is real and I am not dreaming. To say that was a crazy day is an understatement. It was full of so many emotions in one day.
I went out for my qualifying run just after the start of Bump Day at noon. I did a 223.634mph and was not happy. Everyone who went before me – John Andretti, Sarah, Vitor, Alex Lloyd – was running in the 224s. We were on the bubble and knew we would have to qualify again.
No one was turning good times in practice and that was something that made things a lot more interesting, but also painful because we all needed to find some speed and no one was. I saw all these big names I have been following for a long time who had to qualify, like Tony (Kanaan) and P.T.
When I was eight – my first time for watching the Indy 500 on TV – I was watching the guys on the bubble and never believed that I was going to be there someday, and here I was. I could now understand the emotion and how incredibly stressful it was.
The clock showed 4pm and I knew it would be the longest two hours of my life. We wanted the track to get cooler but that wasn't going to happen, so we decided to go out and try the changes we made to the setup in a practice run. We wanted to just put everything together to do a second qually because we knew we had to go back out.
I did one lap and came in because the car was not very good. We made some changes and put on our last set of new tires. I went out and had, by far, the scariest moment of my racing career. I hit the wall in Turn 1. It was my hardest hit ever, with 175 g's. It was quite painful – but it was more painful to know that I was out of the race.
I was OK, but had some back pain and they wanted to take me to the local hospital for an MRI. I was in the ambulance but asked them to wait, because I wanted to see what was happening. Tony was on track. I then heard that he bumped me out. I knew it was coming but, when you hear it over the PA, the feeling is something that I can't explain. It is like all the energy just left me.
We arrived at the hospital and they put me in a room to wait to do the MRI. I turned on the TV but couldn't find the volume. The first thing I saw was Bryan (Herta) and my team jumping up and down in the picture. We couldn't understand. There was no volume to tell us what had happened. My father, my brother and my PR person were with me and we were just looking at each other, like, “What is happening?” The segment was over and we tried to call them, but no one on the team was picking up their phones because they were doing interviews!
When I finally spoke to Bryan a little while later he told me that we were in the race. I was pretty much in tears. Unbelievable. This was, by far, the craziest two hours of my life.
I feel sorry for the guys to make them work so much with the crash, but what an incredible day. It was Bryan's birthday on Sunday and he said this was the best present. I am so thankful for the faith that he, Steve Newey and the team has in me and everyone at William Rast – a dream sponsor. Also, my teammate in Indy Lights, Stefan Wilson, has been at the track every day and also called me last night to check up on me. His support means a lot.
I can now say that I have earned a bigger paycheck than Tony Kanaan. At the last row party on Friday night, my check will be for 33 cents and his is only for 32.