After success in the F4 Championship, Jacob Abel will make the jump over to the Road to Indy, taking part in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires (previously Pro Mazda) in 2019. The 17-year-old recently spoke to POPULAR OPEN WHEEL about his expectations and more.
POPULAR OPEN WHEEL: What are your thoughts looking forward to the upcoming season?
JACOB ABEL: I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season. It’s definitely going to be a big step coming from F2000 and F4 racing which was a lot slower cars. We did some F3 racing and a couple USF2000 races but mainly coming off of F4 experience right now, so it’s definitely going to be a big step but I’m looking forward to.
It’s going to be interesting in having both of my first street course and oval race in a Pro Mazda car – definitely not the most forgiving thing, but it should be a lot of fun and will definitely learn a lot.
POW: Now, have you gotten the chance to take part in testing so far?
JACOB: We’ve done one private test – we got a day and a half there, but struggled with mechanicals in working with the things through with a new car. Then we participated in the series test at Homestead-Miami Speedway with USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. That was good to get our first series test done. It was going really well, but we had a few mechanical issues that were out of everyone’s control. But when we did get on track, it went really well and I feel we’re taking some good things away from that test.
POW: What are your goals and expectations for the upcoming season?
JACOB: So goals, personally a driver, I hope to get into the top-five a couple times this season. I haven’t seen the entry list but as more drivers are coming up, more big names are starting to show up so that makes it more difficult.
But I think that’s a reasonable explanation to get into the top-five a couple times and really work from there. with having not gone to any street courses or ovals before, it’s going to be a big step so we’re keeping the expectations realistic.
POW: What track are you looking forward to getting to most?
JACOB: Probably either Toronto or St. Petersburg, just because I’ve never been to either of those tracks. I think I am going to like street courses so I’m looking forward to those, as well as Mid-Ohio. That’s always been my best track so looking forward to those to.
POW: How did you get your start in racing?
JACOB: My dad raced a good bit. He started in motorcycles when he was younger and really took to that and was more of a motorcycle racer himself. About 10 or 12 years ago, he got into vintage car racing a little bit and with that, I was around the track all the time and wanted to get into something so I got into go-kart racing about five years ago. From there, we moved straight into F4 and just have taken off ever since.
POW: What has been the most memorable moment of your racing career to date?
JACOB: Probably just driving at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time. That was a really cool experience just going on the front straightaway there with all the history behind that track; it’s just amazing. It was a really cool experience.
We did okay at that race being my second ever race in a car so we did alright, but just going that down that front straightaway and crossing the yard of bricks was a really cool experience. Definitely looking forward to doing that again this year.
POW: Who is your racing hero?
JACOB: My racing hero is probably my dad, honestly. He grew up racing motorcycles and really achieved a ton in that and dirt bike racing, winning a couple of championships in that, and then went straight into car racing.
He actually did a USF2000 race himself back in 2015 and obviously, he was older compared to the rest of the drivers in the field. I think he was around 60 when all the rest of the drivers were my age or younger now. So that was really cool as it took a lot of courage to do that, and he actually did really well.
POW: If you were able to climb the Road to Indy and race in IndyCar one day, what would that mean to you?
JACOB: Obviously, that’s everyone on the Road to Indy’s dream. It’s unimaginable. I don’t even know. it’d be so amazing and it’d be really cool to just race in the Indy 500 and race IndyCar; it would be just an amazing experience racing with all my idols that I’ve been watching all my entire life in the cars that I’ve been watching and I’ve been a fan of. That’d just be crazy.
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