Ed. Note: Juncos Racing driver Scott Anderson finished fifth during the Pro Mazda Night Before the 500 race at Lucas Oil Raceway. The top-five result was his second-best finish this season (he finished fourth at COTA). In the following entry, Scott describes his weekend in a driver blog exclusive to Junior Open-Wheel Talent. Enjoy.
Coming into the Night Before the 500 weekend I had high expectations. I had a couple of very productive tests leading up to it and had been spending a lot of time with the Juncos Racing team over the past month learning a ton about the technical aspects of racing and race cars, which has been extremely valuable.
The practice on Friday went great. The car was getting consistently faster and faster. We made tons of progress and by the end of the day we had the 2nd fastest time. The car was handling very well; it was easy to drive and great on tire wear. Things were looking great for the race.
During Saturday’s practice the car wasn’t quite as good as the day before. During the two days of running there was a mix of rain and a couple different classes of cars running, so I think that made it hard for us to keep the car at its best. We were constantly chasing an understeer Saturday and couldn’t seem to get rid of it. We were still capable of some fast times, but not quite as good as Friday.
I really enjoyed the single car qualifying and the combined two-lap average. Having the pressure of being the only car on track and only having one shot at it was pretty cool; it really puts the pressure on you to be perfect unlike regular qualifying where you might get a couple shots at putting a good lap together.
I ended up qualifying fourth. We really needed to start on the front row to have a good shot at a podium, but starting in the second row wasn’t too bad and it showed we hadn’t fallen too far off our previous pace.
Prior to the race, we ended up waiting for something like three hours for rain to pass and for the track to dry. We actually went out for eight or so warm-up laps before the decision was made to postpone the start since it was just too slick. When the rain finally passed and the track was dry we lined up for a shortened race.
I was starting on the inside of the second row and had a decent start. I basically stayed in P4 into turn one, but Anders Krohn must have had a great start because he made up two positions by the exit of the first turn relegating me to fifth. I spent the next couple of laps trying to get back around. I was able to drive in deep but could never get back to power early enough to make a pass stick. I was essentially left with the low line and couldn’t do much with it. I had another shot on the restart but my front tires were pretty badly worn at that point from dealing with so much understeer while trying to get around Anders. I couldn’t stay close to him as the dirty air was making the understeer worse. Then on the last couple laps the rain actually picked up again and the track was pretty slick so I just needed to bring the car home.
Fifth isn’t where I wanted to be and we were capable of better, but it’s decent for points and I’ve got another shot at an oval in Milwaukee next month.