Hey, everybody! I’m glad to be back writing one of these puppies in a more positive light this time. My season definitely started out with a bit of a stumble, but we’ve got things rolling the right direction again!
It’s always a bummer when you start a season 0-2 in any sport, but you can’t let that get to you. One of my favorite qualities about myself is my super selective memory (my mom, however, hates it). I can choose to remember the dumbest things like those lyrics from a song I heard one time in 1999. Or I can just choose to forget things like doing the dishes, taking out the trash, birthdays, and my weekend at St. Petersburg.
It’s harder to forget about some events, especially when they didn’t go the way you wanted at all. All you can do is pick out the things you can learn from and forget about the rest.
I was super stoked to finally get back in my car at Barber Motorsports Park with USF2000 and ArmsUp Motorsports. I didn’t get any testing in between the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park due to Wisconsin’s lovely weather, which featured both 70 and sunny days and 30 and snowing days in April.
That being said, I’d like to give a shout out to Mother Nature for the awesome weather on Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park! I’ve been a big fan of that track since the first time I got to drive it this past off-season in Winterfest. It’s super fast and flowing with lots of elevation changes. Also, it has some pretty “out there” lawn art!
I got into Birmingham on Wednesday afternoon and immediately realized I needed to change into shorts before I did the track walk. I opened my bag and grabbed my Hurley board shorts, which are, well, pretty loud, as you’ll see in this photo of me with my teammate, Peter Portante:
This was my first time walking the track, and I’ve got to say the elevation changes seem way more drastic when you’ve got to walk up and down them! The usual track walk business ensued with brake point references, proper line, and Instagram selfies.
Thursday morning was super stellar if you’re into cars breaking down and not driving. (Don’t worry — it wasn’t my car.) We all got to have a few leisurely laps around the track and do lots of sitting in pit lane talking about what it might be like to get some flying laps in while no less than three cars caused three separate red flags in our first session. Luckily, though, we had another session later in the afternoon to get some laps in.
The second session was a bit smoother with only one red flag. I was able to get in a groove and feel out the balance of my car. We ended the session solidly in the top 10 on used tires. I had a little pow-wow with my teammate Peter Portante, driver coach Steve Welk, and engineer John Walko. John had a good idea about which direction to go with the setup of the car for Friday.
On the following day I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn, which was pretty neat. Our first on-track session was at 12:30 PM — a prime time slot! The session was a success. I was just battling a bit of a push, which is common at Barber due to the high speed corners and abrasive surface. I was again solidly in the top 10 and one of two drivers on used tires (my teammate Peter was on the same tire program).
Our qualifying session had one red flag about a lap and a half in. I went back out and held the fastest lap until lap 8 of the session. When I came in to see about new tires I had a throttle butterfly problem, which sidelined me for the rest of the session. I still ended up with the 4th fastest lap, which wasn’t too bad! The ArmsUp Motorsports guys fixed the problem while I had a chat with John about the balance of the car on sticker tires, and he made a couple of changes for the races the next day.
NEXT PAGE: Race day for Aaron Telitz and the USF2000 series on Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park
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