May 26th, 2006

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Indianapolis 500k

Sorry to talk about simracing so much lately, but this was cool.

In real life, sometimes drivers are put into a car in the last hour of qualifying for the Indy 500, and they qualify the car for the race with virtually no practice. A similar thing happened to me tonight, except qualifying for this 500k race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway already was completed yesterday -- there just were some cars withdrawn today before the race, so I was able to hop into a seat without practice right as the field went to the grid! I was still downloading the track as they got to about row 9 rolling away.

I spent the first part of the race just getting acclimated to the car and track, cruising around out of the draft in seventh gear (overdrive). Unfortunately, that put me a lap down. Here's a picture of me on the outside being put a lap down by certainly the most famous person I've ever been in a sim race with, A.J. Allmendinger:



I had sustained some damage in a multi-car crash that happened in front of me earlier, too, so that slowed me even more. But after going a lap down, I started to push the car a bit more, and although with the damage I had no chance of hanging with the leaders, I never was lapped again and was able to race and swap positions with cars both on my lap and those a lap ahead of me. If I had had the seat time in advance to where I wouldn't have allowed myself to go that early lap down, it looks like I would have been sixth at the finish. As it was, I finished 10th out of 29 starters and only 11 finishers. But it was fun. I like long-distance races in general, and at two hours, this was the longest open-wheel race I've been in -- at least against real people.

A.J. won in a close finish, 0.063 ahead of Rik Zeppelin. They had been running together all race. Great job by them.