Thank you for all of your support last weekend for the third round race of the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup! Here is a recap of the weekend:
I arrived in Salt Lake City late Thursday night and went to bed as quickly as I could. The next morning everything got started early. I had a the opportunity to speak with Matt Chapman - a master at helping people in each situation of their lives. (http://www.matt-chapman.com/) - before heading to the track that morning. After our conversation, my mind felt sharp and my spirits were high. The optimism stuck with me the length of the weekend.
After talking to Matt, I headed out to Tooele, Utah, to get a look at Miller Motorsports Park for the first time this year. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to walk the track Friday but I did get to check in with some of people that make the TDI Cup happen.
On Saturday the curtain went up on the TDI weekend with a morning track walk with lead driving instructor Jan Heylen, a former Champ Car driver. Shortly after that we did our first session on track. I ended up 19th fastest in the practice session and I was stoked because I noticed I already had a better feel for the car’s grip levels. After analyzing at the data, however, I had a chance to identify ways of improving my time and during the qualifying session I managed to go two seconds faster with a 1:42.800 sec lap. This was considerably better then my earlier practice time and was good enough to put me ninth on the grid.
After the qualifying session, all of the drivers had a chance to listen to Patrick Long, one of the current Flying Lizard drivers, speak about his racing experiences. He emphasized the importance of managing public appearances and on-track conduct. Mindful of this advice, I went directly to bed filled with thoughts of the racing ahead.
The race started at 9:30AM Sunday so it was an early morning. Nonetheless, I found time to clean my car and revisit my data before I started visualizing my race. As we moved out to pre grid, I had a brief moment to enjoy sitting in the driver’s seat of my Jetta while the American Le Mans series was finishing practice. It was a surreal and very motivating listening to the Acura and Mazda powered prototypes along with the Porsche, Panoz, and Ferrari powered GT class cars flying down the main strait next to me.
Soon enough, the mechanics told the TDI Cup drivers to get ready to go. So I finished putting on my gloves, helmet, and defender neck brace and proceeded to strap in. After the warm up laps we lined up for our standing start. As the lights turned green, I was immediately pinched to the inside which allowed Joey Atterbury and Devin Cates to pass off the start. After the first few laps, the racers settled into positions and I found myself in 13th spot, monitoring the group in front of me while Ryan Ellis closed in from behind.
Through turn nine I slipped up and Ryan was able to pass me, but I didn’t loose sight of him. By turn four of the following lap, I was under his rear bumper. Right as we were approaching the breaking zone for turn 5 I poked out from the draft and Ryan missed his breaking zone, giving me my position back. After breaking away from Ryan for good, I caught back up with Devin and passed him after he overshot turn seven.
When the last lap was shown, some drivers began getting frantic for last minute positions. Sure enough in second to last turn I watched two cars in front of me come together in the breaking zone. Thankfully, they slid to the outside of the turn and I snuck inside of them to take two spots at the last minute and finish in 10th position.
After doing some driver appearances towards the end of the day we sat in the classroom and listen to Miller Motorsports Park owner Bryan Miller (the son of the late Larry Miller) speak about his life and what he has learned about the motorsports business since he began his involvement earlier this decade as well as some life lessons he has realized since the passing of his father. After speaking to Mr. Miller, the weekend was officially closed and I was left with the task of returning to California for some much needed sleep.
Til next time!