Sweltering heat, shaky hands, nerves of steel and courage on pit lane to get the perfect… tweet. Ah, the life I am blessed enough to call my own is a good one. Great, I might venture to say… and I am appreciative for every solitary second. It’s hard for me to believe that a year ago I was in Baltimore for the Grand Prix, gathering information for my first article on IndyCar. I’d been a fan all my life, but that was the first race where I was More Than a Fan. Hard to believe in just a year I’ve gone from my very first published motorsports article, to the Editor of the site that recruited me. It’s been an amazing year and I love all the places this “second job” has taken me – literally and figuratively. Currently, it’s taken me here to the West Coast, a place I’ve been infatuated with for the past decade.
My first journey to California was for a Spring Break to Newport Beach with 5 college friends in 2004. Even though I had never been here, I felt like I was home as soon as I stepped out of the plane. It was a strange sensation and one I’ve never had anywhere else. This trip… whose visit-number I couldn’t possibly gage, has been so different from all the trips in last 10 years, but in the best way. I always have this anxiousness when I first get to a track – am I good enough, do I really belong here, etc. You know, all those self-defeatist thoughts that the teenage version of yourself tries to plant in your brain… those feelings. But then I actually get here; I smell the ethanol & burning rubber, I see the cars & drivers, I talk to the personnel that I feel incredibly fortunate to work alongside, and I realize yet again… this is exactly where I am supposed to be.
I sometimes wonder if those feelings of doubt ever creep in on the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers. In that last moment before they get in the car, do they question their abilities or their worthiness of being in this incredible series? Obviously, none of us would because we appreciate and understand how insanely talented they have to be to have a ride at this level of racing… but they are still human. They are still flawed and they still have their demons. But I would imagine that any doubts they have are freed from their minds as soon as they sit in their car. They feel that sense of belonging. They feel that sense of purpose. That feel that sense of “this is what I’m supposed to do with my life.”
Castroneves won his 41st IndyCar Series pole position today. He did so with the pylon blackened at Auto Club Speedway and the internet connection lost. But guess what… racing doesn’t stop for a power outage. Not when the driver doing the racing is a Penske powerhouse! This Verizon P1 Award moves Castroneves into 4th on the All-Time Career Pole Winners list, breaking the tie he held with Rick Mears after his second pole of 2014 at Houston for Race 2. The only iconic IndyCar names ahead of Castroneves are Andretti, Foyt and Unser. I think, in that company, it is safe to say that Castroneves is already well on his way to becoming iconic in this series. The question is, will he be able to add a Championship to that already incredibly impressive career? And if so, will it happen Saturday?
If history is to repeat itself, earning the pole here for Castroneves, has yet to translate into a win. He earned back to back P1 starting positions in 2003 & 2004; however his best finish was 5th in both 2002 & 2012. But tomorrow is yet to be written. If the race is anywhere near as unpredictable as qualifying, with Will Power finding himself second to last on the starting grid after a stellar morning practice session, there is simply no way of predicting what is going to happen with this field over the course of 500 miles tomorrow.
I am trackside at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA bringing you updates and live tweets from the Verizon IndyCar Series finale weekend. Please follow along on Facebook & Twitter and as always – I take requests from YOU, the fans. So if you have a picture you would like me to take or a question you would like me to ask – please send it to me via Twitter and I will do my best to fulfill it over the weekend!
Make sure to tune in to IndyCar.com for the live evening practice feed tonight at 10:15pm!