Vail’s Lazier confident heading into the Brickyard
It’s a big relief to be through practice and qualifying. We have really had a brilliant week of practice. We’d been struggling since we arrived here, trying to solve a problem that I’ve felt uncomfortable with in the race car. It’s something that we’d been working toward solving all year and we finally found the problem and solved it last Friday. Since then, the car has been great.
Last Sunday, we went out and did full tank runs and by the end of the 20 lap run we were running 225 mph laps and we were doing 224 to 225 with full tanks throughout the run. So I feel that we have a really good race car. It’s a shame that we didn’t have that kind of car for qualifying. When I qualified during the first weekend of qualifications, I didn’t go as fast as what I thought I should have gone. Somehow, I lost two miles an hour and went just 226 instead of 228, so the thought was that we might have to requalify.
We had a lightening-fast day for Bump Day qualifying. There was record cold temperature with a high pressure system in Indianapolis. I don’t know if it was because of a lot of oxygen in the air, or what, but as a result the engine ran great and the car was really sticking to the track. It was just lightning fast.
We put our qualifying setup back on the race car, just in case, but we didn’t actually have to go back out because our 20th starting position stood solid.
We accomplished the work we needed during the past week and we enter raceday with a lot of confidence. I feel that we are a definite contender this year and you don’t want to count us out. We’re going to be tough.
This past week has brought a lot of down-time with the track being closed Monday through Wednesday. As a competitor, you’d be foolish to try to keep the intensity level that you have. You need to take a mental and physical break. We’ve been pounding around the race track day after day since the first part of May. I spent this past Monday and Tuesday with my family, just taking things easy. Throughout the week, the guys on the crew have torn down the car and literally rebuilt it, bolt-by-bolt and repainted it so that it is a brand new race car.
Thursday was Carburetion Day. That was our last practice session and the last opportunity to fine-tune the car for race day. We used the practice session as kind of a “leak-check” day. We ran a couple laps in traffic to make sure that our setup was what we wanted. Otherwise, we were just making sure that everything on the car was happy and when we go to fire it up on race morning it will be good.
Every race team in the field is blessed with corporate partners and sponsors. Our corporate partners brought their customers to Indianapolis early in the week. Beginning Tuesday night, I started making sponsorship appearances and that continued every evening throughout the week. Later in the week my appearances really picked up. I was doing three or four promotions a night, Wednesday through Friday night and it was a pretty heavy schedule. I always take the Saturday before the race as a personal day and on Saturday evening I’ll turn in for bedtime early. I’m usually down for the night by 8 o’clock.
Sunday is such a huge event. It’s the world’s greatest, largest one-day sporting event. There will be so many people and many corporate guests of our sponsors will be here. There are just so many people that watch this one race. All year long, we compete in a lot of different races and go for the championship, but there is really only one thing you have in mind for 11 months out of the year, and that is the Month of May. It all comes to a peak on race day. That’s when we’ll find who hit it setup wise and who is feeling racy.
What a day, race day at Indianapolis!
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.