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IndyCar Mid-Ohio

Sowery hails “perfect” IndyCar debut with Coyne at Mid-Ohio

The Indy NXT race winner made his long-awaited IndyCar Series debut, in which he tied the best finish of the season for Dale Coyne Racing.

Toby Sowery, Dale Coyne Racing Honda

Toby Sowery, Dale Coyne Racing Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

The smile on the face of Toby Sowery won’t be gone anytime soon after making the most of a long-awaited opportunity to drive in the IndyCar Series.

A 29-year-old Briton, Sowery received the call-up from Dale Coyne Racing to pilot the Rick Ware Racing-partnered No. 51 entry for last weekend’s round at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. 

Despite not having tested IndyCar’s hybrid unit, which debuted at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course, Sowery, who finished third with one win and seven podiums in the 2019 Indy NXT championship (his only full-time season), looked every bit the part of a savvy veteran. After qualifying 24th, he utilized the favorable two-stop strategy to propel through the field to finish 13th - tying a season-best result for Dale Coyne Racing (Jack Harvey, Barber Motorsports Park). 

Toby Sowery, Dale Coyne Racing Honda

Toby Sowery, Dale Coyne Racing Honda

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

“I’m super happy,” Sowery told Motorsport.com. “There was a point where I think we were P11 or P12 on track, I wasn’t sure how much of that was strategy, but we held our ground the whole way. For me, it’s just the perfect debut. Super happy with Dale. 

“Eternally grateful for that opportunity. Hopefully, there’s a lot more because I think that’s a good effort (and) we can achieve more if we have more time. I want to thank everyone, especially Dale, for giving me the chance.

“A lot of the people don’t really give rookies an opportunity and Dale is a guy that consistently does that for people, so I’m eternally grateful and super happy.”

While there was plenty to learn with Sowery’s on-the-job training, among the biggest surprises were how the pit boxes compare to what he’s used to in endurance series such as the IMSA SportsCar Championship and Asian Le Mans Series. 

“The biggest thing that stood out for me was how tight the pit boxes are,” he said. 

“They’re super brave guys that risk their bodies for us and one small mistake and it’s on them. In endurance you don’t have any guys over the wall until you stop, so you can kind of put it where you like. At the end of the day, it’s a race car, it’s a race track. 

“The hybrid was interesting. I think it’s a great addition. For me, it was kind of as expected, but probably a bit tougher.”

Overall, Sowery simply hopes he showed enough to his peers and other team owners that he deserves more opportunities to compete in North America’s premier open-wheel championship.

“Maybe just give the guys a chance,” he said. “I think Nolan (Siegel) has proved that this year and I’d like to do the same. It isn’t necessarily about on-track, it’s about what you can do with the tools you have on-track. 

"Yeah, okay, people can jump in the best car and win, not taking credit away from anyone that does that because it’s still a really difficult job, but sometimes guys slip through that limelight. I’d like to think that’s me, but some people would likely disagree. Hopefully, more people get the opportunity to prove themselves.”

Sowery left Mid-Ohio and immediately flew to Italy for an LMP2 test on Monday, admitted he doesn’t know what’s next for him, but is hopeful of a return to IndyCar.

“Racing wise, I’m not 100% sure,” he said. “I’d like to work on coming back to the ones I can. Obviously, there’s a few races vacant, but for me it’s filling the time and coming back to do some more IndyCar races.”

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