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RAYHALL: Indianapolis Debrief

8Star’s Sean Rayhall files his latest Sportscar365 column following Indy…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Well Indianapolis is just as prestigious as I thought it would be. The only time I had ever been there was when I was 4 years old for the Formula 1 race. The chills and butterflies everyone talks about when you drive through the tunnel into the track is real stuff, don’t be mistaken.

When I first got to Indy, the weather was definitely questionable for the week. Which was not ideal especially being a new track leading on to a speedway wall on the front straight away. The rain actually stayed away, though, giving us nice overcast weather, which was pleasant for everyone, even the cars.

After playing the track on iRacing and watching videos from the IndyCar weekend, I was a little suspect on how the final section of the track would be.

The configuration turned out to be really fun and my first laps of practice were just as enjoyable as the last laps of the race. It is a fun place! Practice went very well for us at 8Star Motorsports. Our car was very solid on old tires, and my co-driver Luis Diaz thought it was pretty good on new tires as well.

Luis and I alternate on who qualifies for each race weekend and this weekend it was his turn. The hard part for me was that I am 10 times more stressed outside of the car watching a teammate, spotting for a driver, or coaching some of my guys than I am in the race seat.

So, 15 minutes of qualifying felt like years for me as Luis switched in and out of the top spot eventually getting having a strong p3 qualy effort. He said the car was pretty solid.

It was very cool how we were lined up on the back straight away at Indy for the fan walk. It may have been a pain for the guys to get the cars over there and sorted but it seemed like the fans loved it!

We had a blast giving out Takis and their newest product, Speedsters. We had so many fans at the track we ran out of hero cards at this event, which was a nice surprise!

The race started well for us, Luis had a nice battle eventually getting him back into the lead where he stayed for the remainder of his stint. Things appeared to be falling our way until his last pit stop.

At times, the pit exit is closed, and there is a red light at the end of pit road, which many of us drivers neglect to look for every time we leave the pits.

Well this was one of those times. This resulted in a stop-and-hold penalty for 60 seconds for us. I ended up serving this penalty when I began my stint after the driver change.

It is hard as a driver to ignore your emotions, acknowledge that we as a team have made an error, and get in the car and do your job like nothing had happened at all, but that is what we are made to do.

So after the penalty was served I was told to push as usual and that’s what I did. Our pace was strong, P1 for the lap average of the race actually even with me backing off numerous seconds at the end for a last minute fuel strategy call to make up one more position that didn’t end up panning out for us. So, we finished 6th.

As hard as it is for me to deal with knowing how great of car we had and what a good position we were in, at the end of the day I just really felt for my guys. They work so hard and so many late nights to give us a good program at 8Star Motorsports that when things happen like this, it’s very easy to lose motivation.

So, after the race I did my same debrief as usual while thanking my guys for the great job they did a few more times than usual and trying to keep them in good spirits for the next race at Road America.

All in all, besides for the adversity this race was fun. It was a cool track, with a fun two days of being at Indianapolis. I am happy with our effort at 8Star and how well our team is performing, and am hoping for a better result, as well as, different circumstances at Road America.

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