Ely Navarro – St. Pete Race Recap

Story by Ely Navarro

Thursday, we had our routine team meetings and track walk. There were so many emotions going through my head during the walk. So many possible distractions, the walls, lights, signs, fences, the crown of the road, the curb paint chipping, and most noticeable the fans. Knowing it’s my first time at that track I needed a lot of information to make sure I can get up to speed quickly. The weekend format was super compact as there were multiple series needing the track. With Indycar, Indy Lights, Indy Pro 2000, USF 2000, Mazda Cup, and Stadium Trucks. After the day was over I took my notes and video back to the hotel and studied. In an effort, to not feel overloaded, I went to sleep early and was ready for the first practice and qualifying sessions.

Going into Thursday the schedule was extremely tight as USF 2000 only gets one practice session that is just 30 min long. I did some simulator training to get references for the corners and ideas of walls and I was on my way. Since our team is leading the championship we got to start at the front of the grid meaning we were under pressure with all of the teams applying pressure. As we pulled out it was instantly a race as we needed to be out in front of everyone as quickly as possible. I learned a lot during practice. I got up to speed very quickly making it my best session of the year. In the end, I was 14th quickest and less than a second behind 1st. 

In qualifying one, I had some car issues. When I was able to go out on track I was up to 10th. Unfortunately there was a red flag after I crossed the line on a bad lap but other drivers were still on their fast ones. This put me to 20th with no time left to go out again. In qualifying two, I was doing very well getting to P10. On my fastest lap I knew I needed to brake a tiny bit deeper to get more out of the car going into T10. I hit it at the perfect spot but not at the perfect peak. This caused me to carry too much speed while turning causing my front to lock up and go straight. I knew I was going to wreck so I tried to bail out of the corner. It was too late and I hit the front left side of the car and was out of qualifying. They took my fastest lap since I caused a red flag and I sat in P22 for race two. 

In race one I had a horrible start and went back to P24. The rest of the race was pretty straight forward making moves every chance I got and I worked my way up to P13! In race two, I took what I learned and had an amazing start making up 6 positions in the first corner! Throughout the race there was a safety car involving two cars putting me in 14th. In the second to last lap, I was pushed wide and lost two spots putting me back to 16th and ending there. I had a fun weekend and knowing how quickly I got to speed and held it really showed me I have what it takes to earn podiums! On to the next Indy!

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