It was a good weekend and it ended really well, I qualified P2 for the heat race and finished P3. I started P7 for the Semi Final race and finished P3. Then, for the Final, I started fifth and ended up fourth. The car was the best it had been all weekend, so it was unfortunate that the leaders had slipped away while I was trying to pass Mike Vergers. Once I'd got it done, they had already gained two or three seconds on me, and although I gained some time on them, it wasn't enough in the number of laps we had.
Overall, though, it's been one of the best months of my life. I really have enjoyed the time here in England. From the moment I walked out of the plane, I knew it was going to be an amazing month. First off, I would like to thank Jeremy Shaw, everyone involved the Team USA Scholarship for giving me this opportunity and Cliff Dempsey himself and everybody at Cliff Dempsey Racing. They truly have done the best job and are the best hosts for the Scholarship program. They have taken in Spencer and myself like family and I really enjoy spending time with everybody there. They always make me laugh – I've probably never laughed so much before! This has been an incredible experience, and I am really grateful for this opportunity.
The Walter Hayes Trophy and the Team USA Scholarship are unfortunately over. My time here in England has been a blast and, not only have I had a lot of fun, but I have learned a lot, too. Overall it has been great but the final day didn't go quite as well as it could have.
I started the semi-final in fifth position. It was a very difficult group; I was in the faster of the two semis. I got a pretty good start and maintained my position. After a few laps I was up to fourth: it's a lot harder to pass here in Europe because there is so much blocking allowed. The leader had gotten a big lead early on in the race so it was a battle for second between five of us. Felix and I were working together but it took a few laps to get to the front of the group. The next lap, a couple of our rivals drafted us and got ahead – it was a lot like a Skip Barber National race. So, going into the final two corners on the last lap, I was fourth and Felix was fifth but then the two in front outbraked each other and I went through into second! Then they hit each other and spun, so Felix came through to finish P3. It was great to both be on the podium at the same time!
For the final we didn't make any big changes to the car, other than new tires, which everyone was putting on. I lined up third for the final, which was a great spot. I knew that I needed to keep touch with the leaders and not lose the benefit of the draft. Sure enough, I kept third on the start but got passed before the end of lap one. I was still right behind the lead group which would have been a good position to make an attack in the second half of the race. Unfortunately, the next lap a driver put a late outbraking move on me and it didn't work out at all: He locked his rear tires and spun right into me! I only lost a few positions but there was something bent in the front of the car where he hit. The car was still handling okay but not as well as it was.
But then the situation got worse: a few laps later, I had caught back up to the group that was battling for fourth position when the driver in front of me went off the track. He came back on and hit my rear wheel which made me spin and come to a complete stop. I fell back to about 11th and worked my way back to seventh at the end of the race, but I have to look on it as a disappointing result: I had the pace to run right with the leaders if it wasn't for the multiple collisions.
I want to thank Jeremy Shaw and everyone involved in the Team USA Scholarship and everyone at Cliff Dempsey Racing. I have learned so much and had so much fun this month in England that I couldn't thank them enough. It was a fantastic experience and I will store every little bit of knowledge so when I get back to America I will be a better driver.