By Ed Carpenter
For The Baltimore Sun
9:34 PM EDT, August 24, 2013
SONOMA, Calif. -- Welcome back to my blog for the Grand Prix of Baltimore Presented by SRT. If you’ve been following along, you know that we qualified 24th Saturday for Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway.Honestly, it stung a little bit. We just didn’t have the pace, which was disappointing. We were quicker than some of the folks in the first qualifying group today, but sometimes you get breaks and other times you don’t.
Sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw and all about which qualifying group you’re in. We just happened to be in the fast group today. It’s disappointing because I thought we could close the gap on the leaders timewise, but we couldn’t do it today.
The wind did play a factor, but it’s the same for everyone. You have to adjust to that element at this track. I just wish we were further up the grid, but we’ll do our best to drive the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka/Chevrolet through the field in Sunday’s race.
It’s totally different here at Sonoma compared with the streets of Baltimore. Here we have tons of elevation changes and no walls to speak of. Plus there's a lot of sand that gets on the track, making it trick to find grip at times. But here you can make a mistake and come back from it. Guys are sliding off the track all of the time in each practice session. In Baltimore, if you slide off, you will hit concrete walls.
Mentally, it’s totally different from this week to next week. Your aggression level is the same, but you just can’t afford to make a similar mistake in Baltimore. We can push the limit more at Sonoma because we can recover from a mistake. We can’t do that next week.
We started practicing Friday, and I was a little frustrated because the track was so slippery. The afternoon session was much better, and the car felt pretty good then. The wind is tricky, and all the sand on the track makes it difficult to navigate certain areas of the track.
We were able to go with our plan with the setups and that plan went better during the second session, but it’s been difficult to get good times in with the changing conditions. The track changes from minute to minute.
It’s weird because we tested here a week ago and then again Wednesday, and the track was completely different. Once you get two or three laps on the tires, they lose grip quickly. The wind changes direction constantly, so it’s been really hard to evaluate the changes and decide what to do to the car to make it better.
It’s almost impossible to make any changes, so that’s been frustrating for myself and the team. But they’ve awesome throughout it. That’s the best part about this group of guys; they never give up and never stop working hard. This is truly a team sport, and I’m proud of their effort in spite of the difficulties.We've had a good race pace recently, especially earlier this month at Mid-Ohio, so I’ve been working hard at getting a good qualifying lap while we've been practicing. If we can make progress in qualifying, I think we can race with a lot of guys. I have been focusing on get out quickly on new tires, just like in qualifying, so I feel like we’re making solid progress in that respect.
I hope you’re able to watch Sunday’s race and use it to prepare for next week's Grand Prix of Baltimore. You’ll notice the differences between road racing and street racing, and you’ll see what we need to do differently when we get there.The broadcast begins at 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, so be sure to tune in. Keep an eye on the Fuzzy’s car!
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