18 May 2011

Simona De Silvestro Out to Back Up Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Performance

Note: This article also runs at SB Nation Indiana.

If it is going to continue to rain at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Simona De Silvestro just needs to find a racquetball court.  Having made more trips to the racquetball court than on the track this week, the 2010 Rookie of the Year is looking forward to her second run at IMS and her first oval of the year.

"I'm happy to go on the ovals right now, and starting with the Indy 500 is a really special feeling," the Swiss driver said during a media availability on Wednesday.  "It's a little intimidating every time you go out there, but it's a lot of fun."

In just her second season in the IZOD IndyCar Series with HVM Racing following a successful run in the Atlantics Series in 2008 and 2009, De Silvestro quickly made an impression in the garages last year, finishing 14th after starting on the outside of Row 8.

The memories at Indianapolis are good for De Silvestro, who met sponsor Entergy at IMS last year, resulting in a full season partnership for the 2011 season.  With Entergy and Nuclear Clean Energy on board this year, De Silvestro was able to secure sponsorship for not only 2011, but beyond, ensuring her a place on the grid to continue on her path as one of the series' up-and-coming drivers.

De Silvestro jumped out of the gate in 2011, collecting fourth at St. Petersburg, engaging Tony Kanaan in a spirited battle for a podium spot late in the race.  A ninth place result followed at Barber Motorsports Park before De Silvestro slumped to consecutive 20th place finishes at Long Beach and Sao Paulo, the latter coming after she was collected in an opening lap wreck.

Still, as she continues to improve, her popularity continues to rise among IndyCar fans, even in her home country, where racing is outlawed.  30-40 family and friends will begin arriving at Indianapolis starting this weekend.

"It's great that people have actually started following what I'm doing on the race track and I think that that's a really special feeling.  Throughout my career, I really focused on that, to show the results and being fast and people appreciate that.  Now, they like this in the IZOD IndyCar Series and it's a special feeling.
"It's really cool that Swiss people get really involved in the IndyCar Series because it's a great sport and people can't wait to see the Indy 500."
With the weather wreaking havoc on practice ahead of qualifications, De Silvestro knows that practice will be at a premium in the days to come. 
"It's kind of weird not having that many laps out there and it's already Wednesday, but tomorrow and Friday it will be nice so we'll be out there quite a bit.  We're pretty confident; we did only one run on new tires and it went o.k., so we have a direction we want to go with the setups.
"As a driver, you want to do more laps, because it is an intimidating place.  The first lap I ran on Saturday, I was like 'Wow,' you know, it was pretty fast out there.  Just to get used to it - your mind has to get used to the speed and things like that.  Throughout the week it goes better, but not having run very much, you kind of have to fast forward that."
Regardless of how much time she gets on the track prior to Saturday, De Silvestro is ready to go to build on her Rookie of the Year performance from last year:
I can't wait to go out there on Pole Day, because that's really when it starts counting and you know you've got to put it together and that's really exciting.
As excited as De Silvestro is to be running at IMS, fans should be fired up for De Silvestro's continued rise through the IZOD IndyCar Series, as she promises plenty of excitement in the years to come, including these next 10 days at Indianapolis.

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