By: Ashley McCubbin
The USF Pro 2000 Championship season has not began how Jonathan Browne would have preferred. It’s why he’s looking forward to turning things around at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the month of May. Prior to that event, though, the Turn 3 Motorsport driver shared his thoughts with NEWS FROM THE PITS.
What are your thoughts going into the next USF Pro 2000 event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
As a team, we’re very excited to get to Indianapolis. It’s been a rough start for us all. We know we can be quick at Indy – we showed that in October and even last year when I got pole. We know we have a quick car. We just need to maximize that weekend.
What’s the biggest challenge, unique compared to other road courses on the schedule?
The biggest challenge at Indy is the massive straights. For racing, it’s a place that we can overtake each other so it makes the racing a little harder, especially if you’re out front. You have everybody getting a draft behind you which kind of sucks but that’s racing. It’s a challenge in racing, but the lap itself, there’s probably more challenging laps out there. It quires a lot of patience, I find, a lot rolling speed into the corners which I think suits my style. The main difference between this and Sebring (Raceway), it’s two different tracks in my opinion. Like Sebring, you have the bumps and high speed corners, but this is more slightly lower speed but more smooth and technical.
What are your thoughts on how your season has played out so far?
The season has not gone how I wanted it to go for sure. I mean, St. Pete(rsburg), we had a lot of speed, but just two unfortunate races. The first one, we had contact in turn one and a puncture in the left front so we get sent to the back. The next one, we had a slow puncture on the right front and killed my whole second race. The two races there – nothing, and then just struggled at Sebring on my side just on the pure pace side of things. The races were tricky, but we survived and racked up a couple points, but it’s been a bit below par unfortunately. There’s still seven rounds to go that we can make it back up.
So what are the goals for you for the rest of the season?
We need to start building some momentum soon. Indy is a great place for us to kick start this momentum. I mean, I was hoping for a lot more wins and podiums this year. I think we can still definitely achieve that if we all buckle down and hook it up together. I would like to win a couple races, a couple more podiums, just be a bit more attacking in the next couple rounds and see where that leaves us at the end of the season.
What do you feel that you can do to improve as a driver moving forward?
Probably something I’ve had my whole life is whenever things are going my way and I’m comfortable in the car, I’m bulletproof and don’t let anything else affect me. I become quite hard to beat. When I’m not fully comfortable in the situation or what the car is doing or what the track is like, I struggle for those last two or three tenths and struggle to get down to that. The biggest thing I can work on as a driver is one, getting down to that comfort ability quicker, getting confidence in the car and getting what I want from the car quicker, and then being just able to finalize the results the team deserves.
The first four races we’ve done, we haven’t really done that in the four races – whether my fault, or someone else’s fault, end of the day the results haven’t been there. So the biggest thing that I can learn as a driver is get the results and be a little more comfortable being uncomfortable, if that makes sense.
Beyond Indianapolis, what track are you looking forward to getting to?
That’s a good one. I think all the tracks are good in their own ways. I liked Road America last year for the racing. I thought it was a really fun race. The track itself, I think a lap, it’s probably not the most entertaining. But the fact that you can race with everyone else, I think that’s really fun. Toronto – really looking forward to getting back to. I do like a good street track. I mean, it’s the bumpiest place that I’ve been to and you get a headache after each day, but at the end of the day, it’s a lot of fun. Then COTA (Circuit of the Americas), I haven’t done COTA before and I’ve always watched it growing up so it’ll be fun to go to those races.
It had to be a good confidence boost for you to end off last season with the fifth-place finish at Portland.
Yeah, that definitely helped. Again, like you got to be at the right place at the right time and that happened to be at Portland. We didn’t have the best qualifying, but we had a really good turn one and capitalized on others not having a great turn one and ended up fifth or sixth out of there and held it for the whole race. That’s what we need to carry forward these next couple rounds. We need to get to the front and if we start there, I believe we’ll stay there.
How did you get started in racing?
So the story is my dad used to be a huge (Michael) Schumacher fan and I used to watch as a baby, watch him watch the races as a very small child. Always begged and wished for a kart and asked how I could do that. I started off karting for fun. I went from getting one for my birthday, and ended up quicker than my friends which is ideal. Then one of the guys said I should do this more often because you have some sort of talent for that, so we just built on it and I had my first race when I was eight in karts in Ireland. I raced all the way up until I was 17, moved to cars, and now I’m here.
What’s been the most memorable moment of your racing career to date?
Most memorable moment was winning the Ford Festival. I thought that – as a weekend, that’s hard to win because you have to qualify heat race, semi-final race, and then final race. We led – we got pole, led like every single lap, only got overtaken once, but got it straight back on the switch back so I don’t know how many we led in total but led the whole event so it was kind of fun. I wasn’t expected to win that so that was definitely my highlight. Another was getting pole last year at Indy – again, nobody expected it. It just came out of nowhere on the last lap. A pole in the month of May at Indy is pretty special, a Festival win is pretty special. So I’ve had some moments but there’s a lot of win for many more.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Hopefully somewhere in the IndyCar paddock winning races. That’s everyone’s dream at this moment in time. I’m sure every driver in my position is saying the same thing. So the best will rise and get there, and the others – I don’t know what the others will do, but that’s the plan to get there as soon as possible and start winning races.
What would be a piece of advice for someone looking to get to your position?
As plain and boring as it is, keep going and never give up. It’s such a challenging sport that things keep getting thrown your way that you don’t want to happen but keep happening. Last year, we had some unfortunate events and no matter how hard I tried, it just all wasn’t coming together. That happens sometimes, but the main thing is you need to keep going and working for it. One day, your luck will turn and you’ll get your break and hopefully you get the results you deserve.
Categories: ashley asks...., Feature, Interview, Road to Indy
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