Hunter McElrea lamented a horrid weekend at Indianapolis a fortnight ago but is confident he can claw back the deficit in the championship over the remaining rounds.
The young Kiwi fell to fifth in the Indy Pro 2000 standings following a weekend plagued by Murphy’s Law.
A misbehaving car in qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course left McElrea starting towards the back of the grid in race one.
As is often the case of being mired in the midfield, McElrea was tangled up in an opening-lap collision that caused him to pit and fall a lap down.
He then finished eighth and seventh in the weekend’s final two races, a round he described as ‘terrible.
“I’m licking the wounds a bit,” McElrea told Velocity News.
“The weekend was terrible. Nothing went right.
“I think the fact that it was also at Indy, a place I love, makes it even tougher for me.
“Practice was all right. We were fourth and only a tenth away from the fastest.
“But we didn’t get the balance right in qualifying and we only managed eighth.”
McElrea’s qualifying was his worst of the season, and he believes that his poor performance at Indianapolis triggered the start of a tough weekend.
“We have been the best qualifier all year,” he said.
“Yeah, I had that incident in St Pete, and then that engine problem in Barber. But each of those times, the results were still good because we qualified well.
“Qualifying badly makes a lot of difference.”
Motor racing is a confidence game, and one substandard weekend can knock a driver’s self-confidence to a point they spend a long time rediscovering their grove.
However, McElrea is adapting a fresh mindset for the rest of the season.
Despite the margin between himself and the championship lead widening after Indianapolis, McElrea is convinced he can pull the gap back and fight for the title.
“It is not impossible at all,” he said on winning the championship.
“I’ve still got 11 races left, and I have pulled a gap like this back before.
“There has been a tonne of work put in by the team recently, and that huge workload is giving me the best possible package.
“Their efforts are also making me want to work harder and become a better driver.
“I don’t doubt my ability; I know what I can do.
“Once we get on a roll and get some momentum going, we will bounce back.”
This weekend’s latest round of the Indy Pro 2000 championship marks the calendar’s only oval event at Lucas Oil Raceway.
McElrea was super impressive at the oval last year, and he hopes he can pull off a similar result this time.
“Last year, to go from sixth to second at a track where it is nearly impossible to pass on meant it was probably my best-ever race.
“I have a lot of confidence heading into Lucas Oil, so let’s hope for another great race.”
This weekend’s Cooper Tires Freedom 90 will be at 12.05 am, Saturday May 29 NZT.