By the numbers, Katherine Legge had an unremarkable day. Her No. 44 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda closed the opening on-track activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 30th place which, on any other day, would be a cause for concern.
The place where encouragement enters the conversation is how far her RLL team took the No. 44 throughout the day, and after parking the car prior to the biggest drafting opportunities presented themselves late in the afternoon, there was no doubt the two-time Indy 500 starter could have move to a higher position on the scoring pylon.
It’s too early to paint a rosy picture of whatever might lie ahead for Legge, but she certainly wasn’t dispirited after learning a ton on Wednesday at IMS and making her car markedly better before pulling into the pits for the final time. Chassis progress was the achievement of her day.
“Until the last couple of runs I was feeling very insecure with the car because it was very pointy and very loose,” Legge told RACER. “I scared myself a couple of times, and I was just not feeling like I could put the car where I wanted to put it. The team did an awesome job, though, working through this the changes step by step. The last couple of runs I did, I was pretty comfortable. Until that point, I was like, ‘Hmm, it’s going to be a long day if I don’t have any rear stability,’ but my crew were amazing and got us a long way towards getting there.”
Considering the time spent between Legge’s last open-wheel outing at the 2013 Indy 500 and her return this month, there’s no pressure being applied by RLL for her to be running for P1 from the outset. Even so, Legge had the look of someone who was finding her way back to the open-wheel groove she had more than a decade ago when she was a regular presence in Champ Car and IndyCar.
“I feel like it came back relatively quickly on-track,” she said. “But driving on track is fairly comfortable for me when the car is good. It’s the auxiliary things like messing with all the dials and knobs and switches and everything like that, doing pitstops, in and out laps… In the [IMSA Acura] NSX [she races full-season] for example, I don’t even think about it. I know where everything is and what I’m doing and I literally don’t have to think about it.
“Now, I’m like, ‘God, I don’t know what I’m doing!’ So when you first learn to drive, and everything seems too much, because you’ve got so many things to do, and that’s where I’m at right now. But when I’m driving around, it’s actually fine because I know how to do that!”