Editor's note: This is the second of IndyCar Series driver Ryan Briscoe's posts, which he's sharing with us this season. Questions and comments welcome.
I was pleased with one thing about our performance last Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park – we were competitive. I started on the front row in the No. 6 Dallara/Honda, and the car was fast throughout the race, but once again it didn’t end well.
I’m staying focused on the first part of that statement: We were fast, and we expect to be fast again very soon.
As I said after the IZOD IndyCar Series season opener at St. Petersburg, there’s not much you can do after a crash takes you out of a race except pick it up and move forward to the next race. Positively and with determination.
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So that’s what I’m saying again after last weekend’s crash at Barber. Like St. Pete, this crash wasn’t of our making. And, like St. Pete, I have to forget about it and move ahead and not let it drag me down.
We’ve been very competitive this season, and we obviously have speed. Hopefully, we’ll stop encountering problems.
There’s not really much time to dwell on what happened Sunday, since we’re back at it again this weekend with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. This is always one of my favorite races – the longest-running street race in the U.S. – and we’ve had success here.
My teammate Will Power has finished first, second and third at Long Beach in the last three years. My other teammate, Helio Castroneves, won at Long Beach in 2001.
On top of that, Team Penske has been strong so far this season. Will won at Barber while Helio finished seventh, so we’re optimistic coming into Long Beach. It’s a difficult, demanding street race, but it’s one we feel we can win.
As for last weekend, well, let’s just say it was probably a case of impatience. Ryan Hunter-Reay came up on me fast as I was coming into Turn 8, which is a downhill right-hander that’s not a passing zone at all. I saw him stick his nose in there as we were entering the turn, so I turned in a little wide just to give him time and space to gather it up.
He must have thought I was opening the door and letting him go by, but I wasn’t. I couldn’t. There wasn’t enough room.
So I ended up in the gravel and out of the race, and Ryan ended up with a penalty. Obviously, he didn’t do it intentionally, but it was certainly a move of impatience on his part. He had an advantage and just rushed things a little.
The sad part about it was that he was running so well, too. If he had just backed off and waited until we had a clear area to pass, I would have let him go. He was on the red option tires at that point, while I was on the primary black tires, so he was so much faster at that point.
We all make mistakes. It’s part of racing. I was just surprised and disappointed by it. As I was leaving the track, Ryan rang me up and apologized, so he was a gentleman about it.
It happened, but everything that followed – the penalty and the apology – was as good as I could have expected. It’s over now, and we’re on to the next race.
There was a good part about the weekend, though. I was happy to be joined at Barber by my mom and dad, who I hadn’t seen in about six months. We drove from Mooresville to Birmingham for the race, and then they spent some time with us here at home this week.
They’ll go with me this weekend for the Long Beach race and then fly back to Australia from there.
It’s been so nice to have them around. My parents are a big part of my success in racing. They stood by me through all of it, and I wouldn't be here without them.
It’s great not just to have them visit, but also to be able to bring them to the race track and let them experience two race weekends with me. I owe everything to them, and I’m not saying that just because I know they’ll read this. I’m saying that because it’s true.
So now the focus is on Long Beach, a fierce, physical race that demands a driver and his team be at their best. In spite of what’s happened to us in the first two races, I’m confident that we’ll be strong again this weekend.
I just hope I don’t have to repeat myself again in the next column.
More about Ryan Briscoe and his Penske team at www.ryanbriscoe.com.
More racing news, blogs, photos and more at www.ThatsRacin.com.