Matthew Inge Looks Back On His First F2000 Win
Wow, what a weekend! Since coming back from Mosport, I have had plenty of time to think about the weekend. At the beginning of the year, I glanced at the schedule to see what events might pose as a challenge to the team and I. And guess what, Mosport was one of those weekends.
Before arriving to Mosport, I tried to put in perspective what reasonable goals I could achieve for myself. Having never been to Mosport, the weekend would test the teams and my ability.
After arriving to the track late Thursday night, it was completely the opposite of what I expected. The track is tucked away in the hillside with winding roads that can easily make you lost. When we pulled in, we had no idea where to turn or go and next thing I know, my Dad and I are sitting on the race track. We thought for sure we were going to be approached by the track police, but apparently they are only concerned with burnouts in the paddock. We took a drive to look at some of the corners and I couldn’t believe how real the elevation changes are. TV doesn’t do Mosport its justice.
Friday morning rolled around and I was excited to put some laps down. I went out in the first session just trying to follow the cars in front of me. Once the session was over, I came back to the paddock assuming we would be pretty far off the pace. Come to find out, we had turned the 5th quickest time. The second session allowed us to put on 4 new Hoosiers and try to find the race setup, coming in 2nd overall. Rob and St. Clair Motorsports did a great job adjusting the car to make it more comfortable.
Going into the weekend, I knew qualifying was going to be key. After the first couple laps I started to get comfortable in the car and started to push. Just as I was giving the car 100%, the black flag came out and the session was over and we were listed third on the grid. During Saturday’s race, we were set back early and once I was able to find a way around Remy, there just wasn’t enough time left to pass Chris. We ended up turning the fastest lap by 0.7 s and I knew we would have something for Sunday’s race.
After Saturday’s qualifying session ended early, I knew we had to set a quick lap on Sunday morning as soon as possible. I ended up finding a great gap and started to bring my times down lap after lap. Guess what, another black flag. We ended up second on the grid and I had a good feeling we could have broken the track record that session. I was having trouble on the straight-aways keeping up in the draft. I came in and asked Sandy from QuickSilver to check things out. Come to find out, the throttle position sensor wasn’t right. This made me feel a little better, but I was curious as to how long this was going on.
After what seemed long a like break, we were back in the cars and gridded up on the front straight. The race before, Chris passed Remy on the outside of Turn 1 at the start so I knew it could be done. Well the green flag dropped and we were off towards Turn 1. I didn’t get the best start and Chris swooped down in front of me before 2 so I settled in to second place. I followed Chris lap after lap hoping he would make a mistake, allowing me to capitalize, and he never did. He seemed to get a better run coming out of 5b leading on to the back straight and I was never close enough to draft by. Finally, on lap 16 I got a great run on him and pulled alongside on the back straight. We went side by side into turn 8 and I told myself I was not going to let up. I made the pass and ran away to steal the win!
Mike Eakin put it best; it seemed as finally the 500 pound Monkey was lifted off of my shoulders. I was so excited when I pulled into Victory Circle that I forgot to take off my steering wheel. Yikes, awkward moment! Wow, what a relief to get our first win in the F2000 series. The win gave the team a huge boost of confidence going in to Watkins Glen. The win allowed us to take 1st in the Series Points Standings and will be a huge advantage to start up front during qualifying. I have to thank St. Clair Motorsports and most importantly my dad. I am looking forward to the Glen!