Most people can't wait until Friday and the lure of a relaxing weekend. It's the exact opposite for Jay Drake, who will spend the entire day of July 22nd working. In two different places. Not only will Drake practice and qualify his ...
Most people can't wait until Friday and the lure of a relaxing weekend. It's the exact opposite for Jay Drake, who will spend the entire day of July 22nd working. In two different places.
Not only will Drake practice and qualify his #20 Vision Racing Menards Infiniti Pro Series car on The Milwaukee Mile on the 22nd, the Californian will perform the identical activities with his USAC Silver Crown and Midget racers.
Once the work is completed with those three cars in West Allis, Wisconsin, Drake has a race at Terre Haute, Indiana that evening, so he'll be shuttling between four cars on the same date.
"It's the first time driving four cars in one day," he explained. "I've done three before but never four. I'll guess I'll just take it as it comes," Drake shrugged. "I've got a good bunch of guys working on all of the cars and I'm sure they'll keep me pointed in the right direction. It could get busy!"
Drake equalled his best finishing position in the Pro Series last Saturday afternoon on the concrete 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway. Starting from the back after wrecking his fast car in the final practice before qualifying - and never making a qualifying attempt - Drake worked his way to the bottom step on the podium in third place.
"I worried about starting so far back but I was able to move up through the field," Drake recalled. "It was a great day for us making those passes; I was able to pick my spots. The way the aerodynamics are on these cars you lose the front end quite a bit. It takes a couple of laps to set guys up and, as the race went on I got a little bit better at it."
Last weekend's race was only Drake's seventh driving with a rear-engine Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone package and he admits he's more comfortable on the Indy Racing League's longer tracks. "I tend to like them better because I like faster tracks."
This weekend, though, he's en route to a mile oval, the historic Milwaukee Mile that has been in continuous operation since 1903. "I tested there last week and I know already I have to be real careful. Last year a lot of cars went out; the track tends to be slippery and guys crash out. I know we'll need to start at the front for that one," Drake said.
Still looking for his first Menards Infiniti Pro Series victory, 36-year-old Drake is also hoping to win the USAC triple crown again this year as he did in 2004. "We keep getting closer and closer with the Pro Series car. We've won everything else we've done so far so that's the goal from here. Good things seem to happening to us and we keep hoping for more."
The four-race weekend will be "tricky. I have to pack different suitcases for each and make sure to put them all the correct trucks," he laughed. "Everybody seems to be interested in what we're doing and they've all been really friendly."
It'll be tricky moving from the front-engine USAC machines to his Pro Series ride as Friday's events unfold. "I'm going to have to slow myself down from the Pro car when I get in the USAC cars without wings. Pushing the [Silver] Crown car down into the turn will be different too. Going from the USAC cars back to the Pro Series, I guess I'll really have to pay attention and pick up on it each time," Drake related.
In all, Jay Drake has been racing in 11 events over 11 days as part of Indiana Sprint Week. And open wheel racing is where his heart belongs, whether he's in the USAC or IRL cars. "The more races you run, the more chances to win. I'd race every day if I got the chance, but I guess you have to be careful what you wish for."
The adjustment from the front-engine USAC machines to the rear-engine lay- down Pro Series car "just came naturally." Brought up on dirt tracks in California, Drake first had to adapt to pavement and, once over that hurdle to the Pro Series. "That was a whole 'nother transition," he mused. "I'm still learning about it and I'm having fun."