AJNR/Brimtek - P1 in Practice, P5 for Round 6 of the VW Jetta TDI Cup at the Autobahn Country Club Tomorrow! Hello Friends, Fans and Family! Very good day for me on the first day of race activities here at the very gorgeous Autobahn Country...
AJNR/Brimtek - P1 in Practice, P5 for Round 6 of the VW Jetta TDI Cup at the Autobahn Country Club Tomorrow!
Hello Friends, Fans and Family!
Very good day for me on the first day of race activities here at the very gorgeous Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL. This was the start of the weekend for Round 6 of the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup. This is an extremely challenging, 21 turn, 3.56 mile road course. I made sure to do my homework before I arrived and it has sure paid off for me thus far.
The beginning of the day started off bright and early at 6:00 AM. You know it, it's breakfast time! Breakfast burritos were on the menu this morning. Warm tortillas, wrapped around cheese, salsa, peppers, onions and eggs! Had a couple cups of coffee to complement it and was fueled up, ready to start the day.
Soon after, we debriefed with our technicians who work their butts off to make sure they bring us the best possible equipment. Seating position and the belts were good and couldn't wait to get back out on track after our 5 week break.
We then had our track walk with chief driving instructor, Jan Heylen. It was raining pretty heavily, but drove around in a few Volkswagen Routan minivans from turn to turn around the track to learn about the correct racing line, gear selection, braking zones and apexes. Very informative and took a boatload of notes with my chicken scratch handwriting.
After our SCCA driver's meeting, we suited up, hopped in our VW Jetta TDI Cup cars and hit the track for our one and only 30 minute practice session. I felt extremely relaxed before heading out onto the damp track. This was the first session of the year where we have had the opportunity to run in the rain. I worked on re-acclimating myself to the track and started picking up the pace throughout the session. The track was drying as the rain had ceased, so we had to make sure we didn't overdrive the tires as they are the only set of rain tires we can use for the weekend. Because the track was pretty much dry 3/4 into the session, it was red flagged to conserve the tires. In the end, I set the fastest time in practice with a 3:05.9 lap! Felt awesome, this was the first session in the TDI Cup where I've actually set fastest time...finally!
After cleaning the car, debriefing with our technicians and driving instructors, I checked my phone for messages. I ended up getting a call from Roy Thompson who is the veteran who was supposed to join us this weekend. The car that he was supposed to drive to get to the track was involved in an accident and he wasn't able to make it today. Unfortunate news but luckily no one was injured. After talking with some of the employees with VW telling them the situation, it looks like some local dealers from Roy's area will be coming to the track tomorrow. So Roy should be able to catch a ride with one of them to still be able to come out and enjoy the racing action! I hope it all works out in the end as I know Roy and his son were really looking forward to this event.
Our qualifying session wasn't until 5:10 PM, so we had some time to kill. First things first...LUNCH! This was probably the best meal I've ever had this season. It was a medley to choose from, and, of course, I had to choose a good portion of each. Pasta, salad, chicken, asparagus, artichoke, mushrooms, peppers, it was all good! Dessert was insane as well, some kind of crazy good yogurt in a cup and some kind of cake thing. Mmmm...mmm! Washed it down with a few Red Bulls and I was bouncing off the walls.
I then spent some time going back over my track notes and finalizing my game plan for qualifying. Still relaxed and was looking forward to our session which looked to be bone dry.
We suited up, buckled down and hit the track for our 30 minute session. I spent no time playing around and started my first hot lap as soon as possible. JD Mobley was right on my back bumper and we were both able to put down some quick laps and we were quickly at the top of the charts. I was sitting on pole for a majority of the session and came into pit lane with about 5 minutes to go. I didn't have anyone holding me a pit board on the front straight, so I had no idea where I really was on the time sheets. It turns out several people went quicker and I was 6 tenths off pole. I went back out, put my head down and drove a super clean lap and dropped another couple tenths. In the end, was good enough for P5 with a 2:46.8. I'll take it! A huge congrats to Kevin Gleason who put together a smoking lap to clinch the pole position with a 2:46.4. With the field this close on such a long track, it's a testament on just how competitive this group really is.
I'm really looking forward to enjoying dinner this evening as I was able to snag a boatload of leftovers from lunch...just don't tell anyone. The day will again start bright and early tomorrow at 7:30 in preparation for our race at 9:50 AM CT. Jessica Peterson and Jessica Francis from Volkswagen have been extremely helpful this weekend. They've been manning the camera for my AJ Nealey Racing Live Ustream.tv channel. They'll be doing it again, so don't forget to tune in by clicking here.
I can't thank everyone enough for their tremendous support and well wishes! I also want to take this time to send a shout-out to my number one fan, my Grammy. She's 87 years young and just had her appendix removed last Friday, then suffered an ulcer soon after. My mom is currently up in Maine looking after her and wish Grammy Caron a speedy recovery!
Until tomorrow, take care!