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.