Most rookies would be thrilled to start 20th out of 27 cars for their first NTT IndyCar Series race, especially on three days’ notice, on a track they hadn’t driven before Friday, and while it was raining. But not Tom Blomqvist.
The reigning IMSA DPi champion, who also starts third among the five rookies in the field, was visibly disappointed after earning 20th for Meyer Shank Racing, which speaks to the Briton’s high expectations for himself in even the most daunting circumstances.
Frustrated by his inability to transfer into the Firestone Fast 12 as his group searched for traction on the wet, gripless street circuit, Blomqvist wanted more from the session and struggled to find satisfaction after stepping from the No. 60 Honda normally occupied by Simon Pagenaud.
“It’s a shame we didn’t get a dry session, in a way, because I think we were making a step in the right direction,” Blomqvist said. “That was obviously another challenge with the wet. I didn’t know what to expect. I just need some more laps, which is the story of the weekend. But we kept it on the black stuff.”
Although he wasn’t impressed with his qualifying result, Blomqvist eventually managed to smile and did concede that things are looking up after his first two days as an IndyCar driver.
“Nonetheless, it’s the first weekend,” he said. “And every little bit, it’s been getting better and better, slowly.”
Team co-owner Mike Shank had nothing but compliments for his full-time IMSA star. “I put him in the car as a test. I wanted to see how he adapted to something that was totally different,” he said. “I know he can be hard on himself — all drivers want to be up front — but we are happy with where he is at. He is progressing just like we wanted him to and making all the right strides to keep improving. We’ve definitely thrown a lot at him and it’s been like drinking from a fire hose for him, but he’s doing great, and just where we thought he would be.”