Watkins Glen Blog: 2 events Going into the second part of the year, the Indy Lights Series headed to Watkins Glen. Our team tested there a few weeks ago so I was ready for what would be a very important weekend for the points race. The "double...
Watkins Glen Blog: 2 events
Going into the second part of the year, the Indy Lights Series headed to Watkins Glen. Our team tested there a few weeks ago so I was ready for what would be a very important weekend for the points race. The "double header" weekend would consist of two races in one day. It was very important to finish in the first race and not damage your car in order not to jeopardize the second race.
The weekend started out very good with a fourth place run in the first practice and it looked like the testing we had done had paid off. Qualifying was up next and we changed a few things on the set-up to improve the car. The 30 min qualifying was cut short due to yellow flag conditions and I knew we had made a mistake with the changes so I came in to make a spring change. I went out with just a few minutes to go and put in a lap slower than practice and qualified a disappointing 12th.
I knew we had to make some changes for the race because the balance was not very good so we took a gamble and my engineer came up with a completely different set-up for the first race. This season has been a breath of fresh air, the AFS/AGR team is determined to get to the front so I was happy they wanted to take a risk on the set-up.
Race one on Saturday everyone started the race very aggressive, we all drove down in turn one and I was able to get Mitch Cunningham on the outside going into the esses. The going into the "laces" pole sitter Frank Perra crashed into the tires. We all charged ahead into the next corner where Hildebrand spun collecting Bobby Wilson and damaging Jonny Reid's car. So after avoiding the incidents I moved up to 7th on the first lap. After the race went green, I got a feel for the changes and started catching 6th place but with all of our cars trimmed out for the long straights, it was almost impossible to pass. The car was much improved and I ended up setting a time six tenths quicker than my qualifying run, which was the 3rd quickest race lap. Position 4th, 5th, 6th and I were all very close but no one could make any moves for position so I ended race one in 7th.
Race two was just a few hours later and unfortunately the top 6 of the field was inverted. (Indy Lights either inverts the top 4, 6, or 8.) I just missed out on a front row starting spot! I had the same situation in St. Petersburg, a little unlucky! The race started off and I had a great run just after the first corner. I was on the inside of Simmons and Donoso but then the full course yellow came out for a crash behind me and I missed a good opportunity to move up two positions. On the re- start I held 7th and pushed to catch the leaders. We made some more changes from the first race and the car seemed to not be as strong but still faster than the cars in 5th and 6th. Over the 29 laps I stayed in 7th looking for an opportunity to get by but the opportunity never came and I ended the weekend with a pair of 7th place finishes.
Overall it was a good weekend for the points chase because I moved up to 4th after points leader, Dillion Battistini and J.R. Hildebrand suffered tough weekends. Battistini crashed out of both of the races and Hildebrand crashed in the first race. Currently I sit 69 point out of 1st place.
Until next race,
Arie Luyendyk Jr.