Arie Luyendyk Jr. - St. Petersburg Blog: Coming off a great test in Sebring I was ready to take on the tough street course. My best result in St. Petersburg was a 5th in the inaugural event in 2005. In '06 I had a major crash in practice ...
Arie Luyendyk Jr. - St. Petersburg Blog:
Coming off a great test in Sebring I was ready to take on the tough street course. My best result in St. Petersburg was a 5th in the inaugural event in 2005. In '06 I had a major crash in practice that prevented me to start the race as the car was too badly damaged, a fracture in my right foot didn't help the situation. In all aspects I knew this would be a tough event for me but I was really confident in my car as it was so balanced at Sebring last week.
Practice on Friday was a bit disappointing we started off in the top ten but then faded to 13th in the first session and 12th in the second. We couldn't acquire the set of brake pads I preferred and I went with a more aggressive pad which was hard to modulate on the tricky course. On Saturday before Qualifying we got our delivery and I had a new set of the proper brake pads. After the 30 minute session I ended up 9th on the grid of 23 strong cars.
Race 1 was that same afternoon and my start was pretty good, I was up a few positions into turn one but then a spinning Bobby Wilson set me back a few spots, I eventually ended the first lap in 8th. The race was hard fought and I found myself in a battle with James Davidson and Andrew Prendeville. I was a bit heavy on downforce and this made it hard to get the passes completed. The 40 lap race wore on and I was looking for my opportunities to pass. Davidson received a blag flag for blocking me on a number of occasions, so then I got some clear track to catch Prendeville. Eventually I had a great battle with Prendeville and got around with front tires locked up into turn 9, it was a great feeling to move up to 6th just before the finish. The whole weekend was a progression and I kept improving and moving up the field. My team-mate who definitely has a special relationship with the St. Pete track won the race in style, so overall is was a good day for the team.
In Indy Lights the winner picks a pill out of a hat to determine if the top 2, 4, 6, or 8 will be inverted for the following race on Sunday. I crossed my fingers but Rafa drew 4 and I would have to still start 6th instead of potentially being on pole. The start of the second race was mayhem, I was gridded directly behind my team-mate Matos but in turn 2 and 3 cars were three wide and the front of the field slowed. Heading into the hard braking zone for turn 4 I braked on the outside and gave room for a car attempting to pass on the inside. Then out of no where Juan Polar of Brian Stewart Racing shoots down the inside making it three wide and outbreaks himself just clipping my rear tire sending me into the tire barrier. Then to make matters worse Robbie Pecorari got air-born through the commotion and launched into the back of my car ending my race buried in the tires. It was a stupid mistake by Polar and it's a horrable feeling to watch the race from the pits. I was disappointed because of all the hard work the team had done to get us in th top 6 and to throw away at a podium shot. Matos also suffered back luck and cut a tire trying to pass Simmons for the lead, he ended up 12th, 1 lap down.
So leaving this weekend behind me I look forward to Kansas Speedway, the home of my first Indy Lights race. I have always done well there so I look forward to that event. Currently we sit 6th in points so we will try and make up some lost ground on the 1.5 mile banked oval.
-credit: Arie Luyendyk Jr