Development programs are a chess match of mind games and good shape. Let's talk about the mind games.
Everyone in the motorsports world knows that our program is in transition. I've been out of CART racing for a year and I'm aggressively coming back to speed, we've got a young team that's maturing with every event and our Toyota program is moving forward at a rapid pace. We are scaling the mountain - together. We can all see that. The key is not to get so wrapped up that it destroys you. Every time I put my helmet on, I believe I can win. That's just me. At Milwaukee we were P2 in morning warmup, which is normally a pretty fair indicator of how the race might go. In Detroit, I believe we were P6. When those things happen, I believe I can fly.
Unfortunately, our series is so competitive, it's very tough to start mid-pack to back and make your way to the front. Oh, those mind games. Try too hard, you're in the fence, don't give it enough effort and these guys will put you a lap down or two and before you know it, your "a wanker."
In Milwaukee, I tried too hard. Pushing too hard to catch the leaders. The back end swapped and the rest is history. Detroit, all I can say is our whole team got together and did the rain dance before Saturday qualifying. It honestly felt good to have our Toyota's first and fourth after Friday even if it was due to rainy conditions. Max did a great job getting the provisional pole. Did that bother me? What do you think. I mean I was happy for our team but at the same time disappointed that it couldn't have been me. What can you do? All you can do is give it your best. After Saturday qualifying it wouldn't matter one single bit, except maybe for that piece of mind. We ended up after final qualifying in 19th and 20th.
It's very tough to pass at Detroit. Even with the changes, its still very tough. The cars are so evenly matched. I believe there were only a few legitimate passes all day. I started 20th and finished 14th on the lead lap. Finishing ahead of me was Michel Jourdain Jr., an impressive youngster. Did that bother me? What do you think. Oh those mind games. All you can do is the best you can do.
Physical conditioning also plays a key role in the overall package. It's amazing how much your conditioning can affect "how you feel". I've got the benefit of working with Anthony Young, Hiro's professional trainer, who motivates me into great physical and cardiovascular shape. Not to mention that Anthony is very picky about what we eat. He tries to acquire a good balance, which is very tough because we travel so much. When we are not racing, it seems like we are either on an airplane, testing somewhere, or doing a sponsor appearances. It's a tough business to carve out time for yourself.
For me, I love what I do. I guess that is what builds the passion. Sometimes you just need a battery recharge. The fact that I get to work on my off-road program gives me some of that mental rest from the routine grind. I also spend some time at "the river". (That's the Colorado River in Parker, Arizona) I have a few toys there that create loads of fun. Most of the people who hang in Parker have heard of "Sunday Money". There hasn't been much of that this year, but... I believe.
I'm trying hard to move our program to the next level. Whatever it takes. I am certainly not alone here, as Toyota and Cal have the same objectives. For know, I am convinced that sound mind and body will ultimately checkmate the competition. Continuing to make the right moves with calculating thought and instinctive insight is the key to every chess match.