(via Autoweek) – (Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of exclusive IndyCar blogs for Autoweek by Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Robert Wickens, driver of the No. 6 Arrow Electronics Honda. Wickens, who celebrates his 30th birthday on Wednesday, was the 2018 IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. He continues to rehab from injuries suffered in a crash in August at Pocono Raceway that ended his season. This past weekend, Wickens returned to the racetrack. He watched the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg from the pit box and worked the radio with teammate James Hinchcliffe, who finished sixth.)
It was great to be back to the track at St. Petersburg. It was crazy, but it was a breath of fresh air. Being at the track and racing is all I’ve known my entire life.
I wasn’t sure how it was going to be, but it was great right from the start. I was a little surprised, given my circumstances. Being a part of it all again was a lot of fun. I had a feeling I’d like being back.
The fan support was just incredible. It really startled me at first. When I was a fan going to races, I was always cheering the race cars — not some guy in a wheelchair going by. I raced at St. Pete last year, but the fans made it even better this year.
It was interesting to watch a race from the smart side of the wall and to see everything the teams do for a driver during a race. As a driver, you hope the team is there working hard, always trying to work out any problems that come up. It was all pretty impressive.
I was on James’ radio during the race. The strategy was changing constantly, and the Arrow Schmidt Peterson team did a great job on the strategy at St. Pete. To come home sixth was a realistic result.
Given how the race played out, James had great pace, but it was a track position race. We definitely had podium pace, but just not the track position after the first stint.
I can tell you that it’s crazier watching and working a race from up on the pit box than it is driving, for sure. I was stressed more for the race this year than when I raced here last year. It was a brand-new perspective.
I don’t know how many races I’m going to be able to attend this year. It’s all rehab-pending. I’d love to go to COTA in two weeks, but rehab is the priority. It’s all a floating target.
We’ll just wait and see.
By Robert Wickens