Stouffville, Ontario – When Dalton Kellett first set his sights on the IZOD IndyCar Series, the thought of running an open-wheel car at speeds greater than 230 mph, wheel-to-wheel, on some of the world’s most famous tracks was more than appealing. It became something he had to do. As Kellett’s open-wheel career became a reality, he became hyper-focused on learning the best road and street courses in North America. But he still had one burning question: what would it be like driving an oval?
“When I signed with Pabst Racing Services, I was ecstatic to know I would be competing in the Mazda Road to Indy, but the thought of running an open-wheel car on the ovals kept me wondering what new challenges were ahead of me. I was eagerly anticipating my first oval test day,” the young driver noted.
This was it; the night before the Indy was here.
“I was very excited to get back to Lucas Oil Raceway. We had two oval test days, which definitely boosted my confidence – and I couldn’t wait to get back on track.”
When qualifying came around, Kellett knew his car was fast and with his confidence in overdrive, his goal was set for the top ten.
“I knew we had a good car but I wasn’t driving it to its ability. It was all or nothing in qualifying, so I just went for it,” admitted Kellett.
As he exited Turn 2 on his opening qualifying lap, he was 0.250s up on his personal best but, as he ended Turn 3, the car’s back end stepped out slightly and kissed the wall – not causing any damage beyond slowing down this critical first lap. Kellett kept his foot in it, managing to qualify 17th despite this brush up.
“I went into Turn 1 with more speed than I had ever carried before and the car held – so I thought I could go a bit deeper into Turn 3. Turns out it was just a little too fast and I ended up touching the wall. I was disappointed, but when I got back to the pit, the team was very happy with my performance – and the fact that I managed to save the car from damage.”
As the race took the green flag, it didn’t take long for trouble to materialize on lap 2.
“As I entered Turn 1, I saw a couple of cars in the wall and everyone started to slow. I went low to avoid the accident but a car from the high side lost control and spun down the track into me. The car hit my rear tire and sent me into the accident. I was really disappointed because I knew we had a fast car and I had a good chance of a great finish. It was very frustrating to have the race end so early,” stated Kellett.
Even though Kellett’s weekend was cut short, he left LOR with a ton of oval experience.
“I was very happy with our progress over the weekend. With my first oval race complete, I am beginning to enjoy this kind of racing. I definitely gained new respect for oval drivers – it takes much more concentration and patience to drive an oval and, moving forward, I’m really looking forward to developing these abilities. Also, I’d like to thank Pabst Racing Services for providing a great car and K-Line Insulators USA for their continued support.