"Little mistake that had big consequences" - Kirkwood

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"Little mistake that had big consequences" - Kirkwood

IndyCar

"Little mistake that had big consequences" - Kirkwood

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Kyle Kirkwood earned his money over the weekend as the only driver at the Detroit Grand Prix to pull double duty in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the NTT IndyCar Series race.

Despite injuring his right wrist in a Saturday morning crash when his No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing Chevy lost its rear brakes, the Floridian went on to qualify 15th for the team and started from pole in the IMSA race with his No. 17 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3. Although he’d fall back to second in the 100-minute race, a stellar in-lap and great work in the pits while handing over to teammate Ben Barnicoat returned the No. 17 Lexus to the lead which was never surrendered.

With a win on Saturday to use a springboard into Sunday’s IndyCar race, Kirkwood says he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to drive after the swelling in his wrist grew.

“I almost didn’t even race due to my hand injury,” Kirkwood told RACER. “If you saw it this morning, it was swollen up like a pumpkin and that’s how it’s been all day. When I woke up this morning, I’m like, ‘This is gonna suck.’ I actually stopped warmup early this morning because I couldn’t really drive; I was, like, four seconds off the pace at the beginning, but then I just bit the bullet later on and knew the adrenaline would take over in the race and that’s what we did.”

Starting 15th, Kirkwood used great strategy calls from his Foyt team to rise as high as second in the race before pitting on Lap 48 for new tires. A slight mistake on his out-lap saw a moment of oversteer bounce the left-rear corner of the No. 14 Chevy off the wall. Kirkwood would pit at the end of the lap and retire.

“We made the car a little bit easier drive which probably hurt the performance by putting the sixth-tooth steering rack in, which is the lightest one to steer, and we took caster out, so that definitely helped, and we we’re doing good in the race,” he said. “It was just a…little mistake that had big consequences. I hit walls way harder at St. Pete and Long Beach than I did today. I barely felt the wall. But when I hit it, everything broke.”

Although a deserving race result was missing, Kirkwood and the Foyt team showed real competitiveness with the No. 14 Chevy in ways that haven’t been seen for quite some time. Disappointment aside, the team’s pace was a reminder of what can be achieved when everything is working as it should.

“I’d rather be fighting for easy top 10s than be fighting crazy hard for something in the mid-20s like we were at the Indy GP,” he said. “So overall, it was solid. We got the win in GTD for Lexus and Vasser Sullivan, but it was a disappointing end because [of] the way the IndyCar race ended. The IndyCar stuff is my passion.”

​Once he returns to Indianapolis, Kirkwood will undergo more scans to determine the full scope of his wrist injury ahead of next weekend’s race at Road America.

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