With two wins so far this season, Parker Thompson has put together a solid Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires campaign in 2018 to date.
Before the current points leader takes the green flag for the Freedom 90 at Lucas Oil Raceway, check out what he had to say to POPULAR OPEN WHEEL earlier this week.
POPULAR OPEN WHEEL: What are your thoughts going into Lucas Oil Raceway?
PARKER THOMPSON: Well, I think we’ve got good momentum on our side with the point lead in the championship and coming off a strong win at Indianapolis. That being said, the ovals are a different animal. They take a different driving style and I think you’ll see a tossup in whose fast and whose not. I think you’ll see some teams that will surprise and some teams that were at the front at the road courses but won’t be strong at the ovals. So I’m just going to learn as much as I can.
My engineer Tim Lewis has some very good background in oval racing from his experience in the Atlantic Championship in Champ Car. So I’m going to take his knowledge in how to set-up a racecar for an oval and hopefully we have a good package.
POW: How would you characterize your season so far?
PARKER: I think it’s been a great season. Unfortunately, I think we should have more wins than we do – but that’s racing. You just have to take what you can. You look at a race like Indianapolis Race 2 where we maybe shouldn’t have won that race but through attrition and adversity we did. My team made an engine change between qualifying and the race to even get us on the grid.
This season, I think if we can sum it up in a word – it’s adversity. We had the pace to win at St. Petersburg, had the pace to take both wins at Barber, and had to pace to win Indy. We’ve been able to win every race we’ve gone to, but we’ve had a few bad luck races where things haven’t come together. But to stay in the top-five the entire time as a team, that’s why we’re at the top of the team chart.
POW: It seems you and Exclusive Autosport just seem to jell together. How is it that the chemistry comes naturally?
PARKER: I think the chemistry has been fantastic. The chemistry was there last year. I love the team that I race for. The crew is built around me by Mike Duncalfe and his family. Mike and Kimberly are a fantastic family in itself and they’ve brought a family atmosphere to the race team. We’re not the largest race team on the Mazda Road to Indy, but we’re definitely the tightest.
Then with the addition of Tim Lewis this year, it’s been fantastic. Tim is an awesome engineer. I’ve learned a ton from him and bringing him to the team, along with our staff that we have, is a key addition. I think you’ll continue to see the quote on quote A-team continues to build that chemistry throughout the year.
POW: Looking ahead, what track are you looking forward to beyond this weekend?
PARER: That’s an easy one. I think Toronto has been a very good track for myself results wise, but also being the home track feel there and the Canadians support. So to be moved up to Pro Mazda this year and to represent the Canadians at another higher level of the Mazda Road to Indy, I’m excited. I think we’re going to have another good car there so I’m looking forward to two races in Toronto this year.
POW: Who is your racing hero?
PARKER: That is a great question. So there’s a few. Number one my father. My dad never raced cars, but he raced jet boats. He’s definitely a hero of mine and I respect him for what he did in his career, and what he did in helping get my career to where it is today.
Then I look at who’s my racing hero not in my family, and I’d have to say Barry Sheene. So not a lot of racecar drivers know who Barry Sheene is, but he raced bikes. He raced in England with the Superbikes and that’s where my dad comes from as that was his background. I’ve always looked up to Barry Sheene. He’s not in my generation. I never even got to see him race in person, but going back in the files and watching his career develop, he’s someone that I look to.
Then the last person who’s a racing hero that you’ve probably all heard of is Buddy Rice. So Buddy Rice and I have a long history together. He was my driver coach back when I first started competing in the U.S. in karting. For what he did in the Atlantic Championship and IndyCar on the limited budget he had was pretty amazing. I think he’s a top-rated talent.
POW: What would it mean to you to race in the Verizon IndyCar Series one day?
PARKER: Well, that’s the goal, and that would mean everything to me. That’s what I wake up thinking about and that’s what I go to bed thinking about. That’s the end goal.
POW: Having some fun with a couple off-track questions to let the fans know who you are, what’s your favorite food?
PARKER: I would – I’m trying to think of something. I would say, honestly, a steak. It doesn’t get better than that.
POW: On the flip side, what’s your least favorite food?
PARKER: I like food; I like a lot of food, so there are not too many least favorite foods. I would have brussel sprouts. I like them cooked, though, but not raw ones. I could never do them in a protein shake. I see some people do that and that’s just not for me.
POW: Dream vacation spot?
PARKER: Somewhere warm on a beach.
POW: What’s your favorite TV show?
PARKER: So I don’t watch a ton of TV. But with that being said, I did start Billions. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Billions on HBO, but that is a really great show if you haven’t seen it.
POW: If you were stuck on an island, what are three things you must have?
PARKER: Well, I would bring a book as I’d like to read a book. I would have a fishing rod so I could fish, and – this is a tough one actually, but someone to talk to. Let’s say Michael Duncalfe.
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