INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Date) – Michael Myers Racing headed to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last weekend for their hometown race, and young Michael Myers did not disappoint, bringing home his best finish to date in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship.
Three races comprised the USF2000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, part of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ GMR Grand Prix. Myers hoped to give the family and friends in attendance something to cheer about as he made his second Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires appearance at the circuit.
“It’s such a wild experience to race at Indy,” said native Hoosier Myers. “It was my first race with the series last year so to come back was so cool. There’s nothing like driving there, especially this year with all the fans. Even the track walk is mind-blowing with all the history! My family was there, and some of my friends. It’s great to show a weekend like that to friends who know the track, but maybe not motorsports so much. They really have a reaction to my helmet cam video and watching me on track. It’s cool for them to see this hometown guy coming into this crazy world of INDYCAR racing, and to see the progression made so far.”
The weekend began on Thursday, with two test sessions, an official practice and the lone qualifying session, with the quick time determining starting positions for Friday morning’s race one (race two would be decided by the quicker of the two laps: the second quick lap in qualifying or his quick lap in race one, with the same scenario for Saturday’s race three).
Ambient temperatures hovered in the low 40s on Thursday morning, and with no rubber on the racetrack, Myers and his competitors eased into the day. Knowing that the green track would take its toll on tires, Myers chose to ease into the session by waiting till the end to start laying down laps. Job one on that first day was also to establish the relationship between Myers and veteran Ian Brown, the new team engineer.
“We definitely had a strategy to make the most of that first “green” session.” It was very cold and the track was not in good condition for speed. We did just enough laps to check out the car and get comfortable, then parked for some adjustments and to wait until more rubber was on track.
“One big thing we worked on was to reinforce my database on exactly what a given change does to the car. That first session was a long one, 50 minutes, and we ran a great deal in the second half of that session, once the track had warmed up. We just built on that in the second session, getting more comfortable with the car and with Ian. We qualified P19, not where we wanted to be, but we’d changed tires then made some big changes to the car, and we set some good laps and got our weekend headed in the right direction. I felt very comfortable pushing the car, which was what I had to do in that lone qualifying session, and that was something I haven’t had to do for a long time. I haven’t trusted the car enough yet, and I feel as though that changed last weekend.”
Friday saw two USF2000 races on the schedule, at 10:40 a.m. and 3:25 p.m., meaning the IMS surface would be warm and up to speed for both races. Myers knew that making it safely through the first lap would be the key to every race, as the wide front straight which narrows into a tight Turn One could spell disaster for the weekend.
“I am very good at avoiding wrecks, for the most part. I have a conservative approach to the first corner, which can hurt me, but more often than not it pays off. I got a good start but once I hit the Turn One brake marker, I’m into survival mode. I made it through the mess and then hit my stride. I set some of my best times of the weekend, even in traffic. I trusted the car, and that was apparent – I had a good battle with (Exclusive Autosport’s) Grant Palmer for a few laps, back and forth. It’s great to be able to race hard and clean.”
With a 13th-place finish under his belt, Myers and the team evaluated the setup and headed to false grid to lineup for race two. As usual, Myers turned off the No. 42 Tatuus USF-17 as he waited for the rest of the field to get into place. When the time came to head to pit lane, he flipped the switch and … silence.
“I radio’d the guys, but they were already in pit lane. One of the Legacy Autosport guys came over to help, as did the guys from (series engine supplier) Elite Engines. We discovered an electrical failure, just one of those things. But fortunately, my father, who is my main mechanic, has a lot of experience with that so we knew we’d be fine for race three. It was good to know that we could diagnose and fix something quickly!”
Saturday’s race was early (9:40 a.m.) but after two other Road to Indy sessions, so again, the Cooper Tire rubber was worn in and ready on the racing surface. With an eye toward erasing the bad memory of the missed race on Friday afternoon, Myers took the green flag in 18th position and managed to avoid a first lap melee to bring the car home in a series-best 11th place.
“I had a good restart after that early yellow and was able to make some good passes. It was the best way to end the weekend and I’m very happy about that. I really want that top 10 finish; I know we can do it given our progression this season. Now it’s time to focus on my first oval race!”
Next up for Michael Myers Racing will be the lone oval of the season, the Freedom 75 at Lucas Oil Raceway May 27-28. Catch the race live at USF2000.com and the Road to Indy TV app!