Well, we have an interesting season on our hands… and when I say “we,” I'm talking about the IZOD IndyCar Series as a whole. My Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves is out in front in the championship, Scott Dixon's making a charge, and Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti are also solid contenders with five rounds to go.
For the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske crew, things have been interesting too, sometimes for the right reasons, sometimes for the wrong reasons… but at least we are having fun just going for it, experimenting a bit, while also trying to help get that title for Mr. Penske, who's had to wait for it for too long. Yes, I hate thinking about the long gap since the last time our half of Team Penske went to Victory Lane, but I think there are definitely areas where we've made good progress.
You may have noticed that we've shown quite well on the ovals this year. At Milwaukee we got third, close behind Helio. Very close actually ;-) and then Iowa could have been a stronger finish but we had issues with the rear of the car. But still, the second place in the heat race final was satisfying. And then Pocono, we were fourth, but we should have been at least second. Unfortunately, as I came out of the pits, I'd just passed Dario Franchitti and was homing in on Charlie Kimball, but I got an overboost penalty, which knocked us back, so Dario and Simon Pagenaud got around me. I got back past Pagenaud, and finishing as top Chevrolet runner was good, but I believe we could have crashed that Ganassi team party on the podium.
Texas initially looked like the most promising for us because we got a strong pole position. But in the final stint of the race, the car just went loose and I lost five places at the finish.
The restrictions on developments have definitely mixed up the performances of the teams and certainly affected some of the race results this year. Is that a good thing? Well, some would say yes. Others would say that it would be good if IndyCar allowed more room for changes with the teams, especially now as we've gotten familiar with this car.
On the engine side, we've also been able to point the Chevrolet/Ilmor guys in a certain direction regarding the improvements we need. Inevitably, every time we make a breakthrough, the guys with Honda eventually pull level with us, so it's important that we as drivers and teams give the most comprehensive feedback we can to help keep the Bowtie at the front. As a result, I'm sure Chevy has some big plans not just for this year but also when the engines get re-homologated for next season. That should be very interesting.