Burkett: Awesome fans and challenging conditions highlight Toronto weekend

Daniel Burkett, Mazda Road to Indy, USF2000, USF2000 bloggers — By on July 28, 2014 2:18 pm

When the green flag waved I got decent acceleration, and I dove down to the inside of the track where the concrete was very slippery. This proved to be a wise decision as most drivers took the outside lane and a crash occurred right where I would have been. Coming out of turn 1 I had picked up three places and was aiming to overtake 5th place when the full course caution came out.

After three laps of caution we went back to green and I overtook 5th place going into turn 1 on the inside and started my chase on 4th place. In the first few laps I was matching RC Enerson’s pace and even slightly catching him. But as the track started to dry my setup proved to be too soft and the car started to slide around in the rear, causing my pace to drop. Peter Portante was catching quickly from behind and he made his move on the outside of turn 3.

We were side by side going up the hill into turn 5 — however, I backed out of it and that proved to be very costly. Colton Herta, who I had passed earlier in the race, took me going into 5, and then Aaron Telitz made a move going into turn 6 and Victor Franzoni followed him through. So, to recap, in three corners I had lost four positions, relegating me back to 9th.

I was determined to move back up the grid. At that point I kind of shot myself in the foot by pushing too hard for the conditions and actually began running slower lap times. Once Stefan had told me to just focus on hitting my marks and cool down, I started to get back into rhythm. At that point in the race I was 10th and there were only two laps remaining. I was running times that were much quicker than the 9th place car, and going into the last possible passing zone of turn 9 I made my move to take the position away.

I was relatively pleased with 9th. I knew I had the speed to run at the front, but my mistake in turns 3 and 4 cost me big time. Looking back on it, I should have stayed side by side. But hindsight is 20/20!

Moving onto the later race, I was feeling very ready to get a better result for my Belardi team and the Canadian fans. I felt like our car setup was going to be very quick and moving up the grid wouldn’t be a problem.

I was starting 9th again for Race 2, and on the start I got a very good jump. Again, I took the inside line. It didn’t work quite as well, but I moved up one spot into 8th and then avoided a major pile up in turn 3 to end up 6th once again before the full course caution came out.

On the restart I didn’t get the run I wanted to and had to settle in where I was to chase down the leaders. The car developed a major push as the race went on and I had to turn into the corners early in order to make the apex. It took some adjusting, but once I learned how to make the car fast I started setting quick laps and was on the hunt for my first podium finish. Soon enough, another full course caution ensued and I was bumped up to 5th due to a retirement at the front.

On the restart I was passed going into turn 1, but I had a massive run coming out of the corner and was ready to make my move on the outside going into turn 3. However, the young rookie I was passing had other ideas and decided to attempt to outbrake me, a feat not many can accomplish. I braked as late as I possibly could and he went another 50 feet later, which sent him sailing into the tire barriers at a steady pace of at least 40 MPH. Because of the added barrier length, I was stuck sitting inches from another wrecked car waiting for safety crews to push my car back. By the time I got going again I was in 12th place with two laps remaining. For me, this was extremely frustrating because I knew a top 5 finish had been in store for me and it was ruined by another driver’s mistake.

In the final two laps I made up four positions and finished in 8th place, which was disappointing but still not as bad if I was involved in the accident.

I wish that my Toronto Indy weekend had gone better, but coming away with two top 10 finishes is better than how most fared this year with only half the field finishing in Race 2. Next for me is Mid Ohio, which is coming up this weekend!

Until next time,


Daniel Burkett races in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship for Belardi Auto Racing. Follow him on Twitter at @dannyburks and on Facebook.


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