Laying down a good qualifying time is just a small step for the overall race weekend, though. The top 6 cars in our class were all within a second of each other, and the rest of the group was just as tight. One more position higher, or maybe even one lower, would have been nice though. Starting the race in 4th means that I'd be starting on the outside of turn 1 and, even worse, on the inside of turn 2. The inside of 2 is often a preferred position to be in, but if there's ever any trouble in that corner, the inside lane is a serious traffic jam.
This was unfortunately the case for the first day of racing. With a somewhat decent start, I made sure to hold my own as we went into turn 1 and approached turn 2. But once we reached turn 2, that entire inside lane slowed to a crawling pace, I'm still not sure why. At that point, I found myself stuck in the position of driving directly behind a group of slow cars, while the lane of cars next to us was passing by too fast for me to try and sneak out without incident. With no way out of the situation, I was stuck watching these cars pass us by without there being anything for me to do. I had to spend the rest of the race trying to build back up to where I was, but I only worked up a 10th place finish by the time the checkered flag dropped. Not my proudest performance to say the least.
Day 2 of racing was pretty much a session of making up the lost ground from day 1, which is pretty tough when running with such a fast group of drivers. Before I had much chance to charge forward, there was a bad accident between one of the FS2.0 cars and a Formula Mazda, putting the FM into a wall and the FS2.0 flipping end over end. The crash was nasty enough to red flag the race, putting all of us in the pits while the race timer counted down. We eventually were released from the pits to continue racing, but not for long. We turned a total of 9 laps in this race, including both race and pace laps. With such little time actually racing, I was only able to gain one position back, giving me a 9th place finish for the day.
While this wasn't my best weekend on the track, it was still a great event. The Indy GP of Sonoma has consistently been the largest and most competitive race weekend for the Formula Mazda class. Drivers from all over the country haul out to the beautiful landscape of Northern California, where we put on an excellent show for thousands of fans to see. While the racing didn't go as well as I hoped, I still got to talk with some favorite IndyCar drivers, shook hands and met with many wonderful fans, and drove the weekend start to finish while bringing the car home in one piece.