NightPracticeI had a great time at Sebring this past weekend for the 12 Hours. It was one of the most dynamic 12 Hours I can remember, with all types of driving conditions. We had sunny weather and hot track temperatures for the start, then drizzling rain, then thunderstorms that created a rain delay, and then drying conditions while nightfall set in.

During qualifying, our Mazda Prototypes had their best performance to date, qualifying 5th and 7th. This was really exciting because I got to start the race alongside F1 legend Rubens Barrichello, while directly ahead of me was Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
We had beautiful weather for the start of the race along with a large crowd, and there was a lot of excitement in the first few laps. I finally settled into a nice rhythm, and once the Prototype field stretched out, we were able to focus on fuel conservation to maximize our strategy.

After my stint, conditions began to change, and drivers were caught out in the rain on slick tires. There were a lot of issues as drivers tried to deal with the tricky situation, and unfortunately we had a setback, as well, which put us down a couple of laps.

DriverLineupThere was a red flag for a couple of hours due to lightning, but track workers got the circuit back to racing conditions once the threat had passed. We got back underway with about eight hours left in the race.

Our goal was to regain the lost laps through pit strategy, and as the track dried, we found ourselves only one lap down heading into the night.

By the end, I had experienced driving in hot, greasy conditions, pouring rain, a drying track and at night. A little bit of everything in one race! It was a lot of fun at night: the track had good grip, and the cooler temperatures meant we were pacing just as fast as we had in qualifying.

The final hours of the race were very exciting, not only for the leaders who had a 30-minute dash to the end, but also for both of our Mazdas, which gained positions during those night hours. Mazda had a great result with top-ten finishes: the 55 car finished on the lead lap in 6th, and our No. 70 finished in 8th. It feels good to have a solid result, but it also makes us hungrier for that podium finish!