By: Ashley McCubbin
The Road to Indy is all about showcasing up-and-coming open-wheel talent, and the Indy Pro 2000 Championship is a great example of that as seen by three rookies atop the standings right now. Josh Green enters the second race weekend of 2022 ranked third following a win on the streets of St. Petersburg.
The Turn 3 Motorsport driver recently spoke with NEWS FROM THE PITS about his season, Barber Motorsports Park, and the psychological side of the sport.
ASHLEY MCCUBBIN: What are your thoughts on how things played at St. Petersburg?
JOSH GREEN: I think it was a really strong weekend. We finished last season with a win in USF(2000) and coming into this season, I knew Turn 3 had a really strong car – and we just went and executed. Obviously, the pole and the win were huge. Obviously Saturday there was the unfortunate incident in the race, but to still come away with just a strong showing and a good points haul was really important.
ASHLEY: Looking at the season ahead, what are your goals and expectations?
JOSH: I think obviously the goal is to win a championship, but expectation, I don’t want to put an expectation on it because I don’t want the stress and everything that comes with that. I am just going to take it weekend by weekend, and my expectation is to do the best that I can.
ASHLEY: You got the chance to test at Barber (Motorsports Park). What are your thoughts on the road course?
JOSH: It’s one of the coolest road courses in the country – just the crazy elevation change, and how high-speed it is. It’s a really special circuit to drive around, especially on a qualifying lap. Just to get everything out of the car in one lap is tough to do, and it’s a tough circuit. But it doesn’t race well, unfortunately, just because being high speed, there’s a lot of aero-wash between the cars. So qualifying is one of the most important sessions of the weekend.
ASHLEY: Being this is your first year in Indy Pro 2000, what are your early impressions about these racecars?
JOSH: So I did some testing at the end of last year, and obviously USF is the same tub so it’s the same look. The biggest difference that you notice is the tire. Obviously you have more aero with more power, but the biggest difference is how big the tire is. You have to drive the car differently because the tire being bigger, you can do so much more in the slow speed corners, and that was the biggest thing that I noticed.
There were also some changes with the halo with the balance of the car and how you set it up with the air around the car and ride heights.
ASHLEY: I know we’re early in the season, but we’ve got there rookies atop the standings right now. How much does the early success and speed boost your confidence?
JOSH: It’s definitely a confidence boost for sure. I think it’s more so a comfort in a way because in testing, we weren’t the strongest people in the world testing and you never like to show up and not be the quickest. So to show up to St. Pete and be quick out of the box, it set my mind to rest, and same thing at Barber. So yeah, it’s nice to know it’s not a fluke and you have the pace to run up front.
ASHLEY: So knowing what comes with the championship and a chance to move up to Indy Lights, how much pressure does that put on your shoulders to perform? Then if there is pressure, how are you keeping yourself calm and focused on the goal at hand?
JOSH: So, there’s always pressure when it comes to race weekends, just because I have sponsors at the circuit, fans, family – anybody who is supporting you wants the best for you. There is also always going to be pressure on you for the prize at the end of the season because it’s hard to fund a budget on your own for Indy Lights. It’s a 1-point something million budget so it’s hard to get it on your own and that scholarship could be the make or break for some people’s careers. So yes, it tends to add pressure.
I tend to not feel it much. You have to be really good at compartmentalizing all of it and when you get in the racecar, just doing your job. I think that’s the biggest thing – putting that aside. It’s okay to think about it, but not when you’re in the racecar. When you’re in the racecar, your head needs to be clear because that’s when you need to perform. When you’re outside of the car with the media stuff, you still need to be on top of your game, but it’s not the same as in the racecar.
So I say the biggest thing is just keeping your expectations where they should be. Don’t always expect to win because there’s some weekends when you won’t be able to get a win, whether that’s the car or you – stuff like that, stuff happens. You can’t let that disappoint you. You have to be able to see past that and know it is a long season as you mentioned. But the biggest thing is compartmentalizing and saying screw it, I got what I could out of it, and being able to do that every time you get out of the racecar.
ASHLEY: So what do you feel you could work on as a driver to get better moving forward?
JOSH: I think that – the mental side of it. It’s something that I struggled with a ton last year, and have throughout my entire career – on the pressure side, and a lot of is internal with putting a lot of pressure on myself. I’m really tough on myself to perform and get everything out of myself, and when things don’t go well, whether because of my fault or the car, I always tend to blame myself which is a pretty destructive thing to do.
I went and did some courses through the off-season, actually, and it helped me a ton with just getting out of my head and learning what I can do to be constructive, not destructive, and give me notice for a way out. So now when I notice I’m slipping in that direction, I can pull myself away from it. I think the biggest thing is keeping yourself in that zone, so when you’re in the racecar, you’re in that zone to perform and I drag myself out of it because I’d be so obsessed with that mistake and I need to be that good. The answer is always you work best when your head is clear so you can be focused.
ASHLEY: How did you get started in racing?
JOSH: So I got started on an indoor go-kart track not far from here, actually. I live in New York and its called Grand Prix New York. I had a summer camp and from there, it went to an outdoor kart track called Coal Valley Race Park, which is native to Santino Ferrucci, Sage Karam, a couple other big names. From there, I moved into 1600 with Team Pelfry. So yeah, it’s been humble beginnings.
ASHLEY: So what’s been the most memorable moment of your career?
JOSH: I’d say either the first win in USF, or the first win in 1600 – which was my first ever car racing win, in my first ever weekend driving a racecar. So I did a two-day test in 1600 about a couple weeks before that at the end of my karting season and the plan was to do a full other season of karting. After the test went so well, the team owner said I should come down to the first race and we were like, “Nothing to lose, might as well.”
(I) went and did it, qualified fourth, and it was full wet at Road Atlanta in a 1600, which is Formula Ford, and I’d never driven in the wet before. It was like my 10th session in the car ever and I got the lead in turn one and somehow didn’t fire it off through the race and won. Came in, and it was just really special with everyone being so pumped up – being new to the team, but still feeling like a family around me. I still have the champagne bottle that is signed by everyone on the team.
Then just the win at the end of the season in USF at Mid-Ohio, it was probably just the most memorable thing because for me, the season had been rough for sure. We had a lot of adversity and struggle, and towards the end of the season, we started to pick up the results we deserved at the beginning of the season and tried to work at. When we got to Mid-Ohio, the entire night before I was telling everyone that I was going to win – it’s going to rain and I am going to win.
When we started the pace laps and I started sixth, and mentally, I was like I was going to lead the first lap – 100%. For whatever reason, I was just convincing myself. I passed five cars in one corner and led out of turn one and went on to win the race, and it was just – I got out of the car and the first person I saw was the team owner Peter crying. That was just like really special, and getting able to spray everyone.
It was really special, and I’ve grown with them a ton – probably the most that I have just in general in life, not just racing, and it was really special to just give everyone what we finally deserved.
ASHLEY: Who would you consider your racing hero?
JOSH: Somewhere between Jim Clark and Ayrton Senna. Senna is just pure raw driving talent; he always got everything out of himself and the racecar and always performed at this 110% level which idolized him as one of the best. Whenever he was in a racecar, he was going to the front – it didn’t matter what car he was in.
Then Jim Clark, I think a lot of it was mechanical sympathy. Back then, you couldn’t drive a 110% because you’d blow the car up and he was just able to be on a fine edge with the machinery to drive quicker than anybody else, but not damage anything. It’s unfortunately they died so soon in their careers, but they both had special talents.