Burkett: This time, even contact couldn’t keep us from strong results

Daniel Burkett, Mazda Road to Indy, USF2000, USF2000 bloggers — By on May 7, 2014 9:23 am
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Daniel Burkett, USF2000 driver for Belardi Auto RacingWelcome back, readers!

I’d like to start by giving a shout-out to my epic new webseries, Daniel Burkett’s Quest for Sponsorship. If you haven’t seen Episode 1 then you’re missing out — it’s hilarious and perfectly mocks the hunt for sponsorship if I do say so myself. But it’s not like I’m biased or anything. Check it out:

Also new and exciting: I’ve begun my campaign to capture the Atlantic Championship series title by sweeping Rounds 1 and 2 at Road Atlanta and setting a new track record in the process! I’d really appreciate it if you could keep up with all of the action in the different series I’m racing in this year. Even I get confused sometimes!

Anyhow, let’s move onto the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, shall we?

Getting to Alabama took me 22 hours, which would seem a little insane if I had flown to the race. I drive down, though, all the way from snowy Winnipeg, Manitoba, to nice and warm Birmingham, Alabama. The drive was actually quite relaxing and gave me some time to just chill out before what was going to be a busy weekend.

I arrived in Birmingham at around 9 PM on Wednesday evening, so I wasn’t stressed for time at all. I had to be at the track at 6:15 AM the next day for USF2000’s first session at 8 AM, which was going to be rough considering there were no Tim Hortons around to get a decent cup of coffee.

Our first practice session was filled with red flags, and we only got about three solid laps in. We finished the session in 4th place, so I was relatively pleased with our performance. Knowing the track was going to change in major ways for our second practice session, we adjusted our cars a bit but nothing too radical.

In our second practice the car had a huge push to it and we couldn’t solve the issue in pit lane, so we settled for what we had and tried to get the most out of the car. I ended the session 13th, which I was disappointed with. But I knew where the time was, so that was a positive I took away from it.

Moving on to Friday, we had one practice session and then qualifying. It was an extremely important qualifying session because passing at Barber is no easy task. In the practice session we didn’t have the pace once again and finished in 12th place. Frustration was beginning to set in because there were no more test sessions left to experiment with setups and we were still off by quite a bit.

In qualifying, my engineer Bill and I decided to use two sets of tires, which is something that I had never done before. But considering the circumstances, I agreed that it would be beneficial.

It was much of the same with our first set of tires. Before we came in to change them out we were in 14th, I believe, but the car wasn’t terrible — it needed just a few fine adjustments to be fast. As we switched over to the second set, Bill made a few changes to help the car rotate better on corner entry and away we went. At that point we only had about five minutes left, so I knew that I had to make those next few laps count. The car was much improved with those small changes and I ended up in 8th, which was reasonable enough that I was pleased.

Saturday was going to be a jam-packed day with two races within three hours of each other. It was one of those situations where you couldn’t wreck in Race 1 or you wouldn’t be racing in Race 2.

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NEXT PAGE: High drama on race day for Daniel Burkett and the rest of the USF2000 Series at the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama

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